Tuesday, October 6, 2009

8 Tips to Better Service

A few years ago, I was sitting in Applebee's with a friend eating lunch. Sam was sitting next to me in a highchair holding his rings and chew toys, and Nephi had yet to be a thought...

My friend and I were chatting and catching up, when the waitress came over to take our order.

"Hi, Ladies, my name is Becky and I will be your server today, what can I get you?" she asked. I was just about to open my mouth when my sweet friend started to order first, her face buried in the menu, not once looking up at the waitress. She also snapped a special order, no onions and Ranch on the side, before it was my turn.

"Hi, Becky. I would like... and do you think it would be a problem if you didn't include...."

"Yes, I think we can do that, she said kindly to me not looking at my friend once." When she left I almost kicked my companion under the table. She had been so rude to the waitress, I was embarrassed.

"You're way to nice to them. This is their job -- to serve us. Otherwise, I refuse to tip." she informed me smugly. I was totally turned off.

Ironically, guess whose order got messed up and whose didn't? Mine was perfect and the waitress smiled down at me as she set my plate in front of me -- it was perfect. My friend's had onions and ranch all over the top. She flipped and let the waitress know how angry she was.

After the meal, I tipped her a few bucks and watched in disbelief as my friend dropped 3 pennies onto the table as we left.

"It's so hard to find good service these days!" She said loudly as we walked out. Needless to say, I didn't go out with this friend again to spare myself and others.

The point of this story? If you want good service, you need to treat people a certain way. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years that grant me better service, better food, and I am sure the cook doesn't spit in my spaghetti -- it you know what I mean.

Disclaimer: Not all waiters/waitresses, clerks, and other service workers are nice people. Some will not respond to these tips... those are the ones you just feel bad for, tip less, and move on.

Tip #1: Call them by name
Many studies have been done on people's reaction to when you say their name in talking. People LOVE this, it makes them feel a bit of friendship and trust. When you see someone with a name tag, USE it... trust me, things turn out better then expected.

Example: This last week I had to get my car fixed. There were two men I dealt with, and I made sure I always used their names when I talked to them, and oddly enough, they remembered me and I put my work first. There were other people who they kept asking their names and which car they had, but they remembered me... even when I called. It was great service and they felt they were respected by me and treated like people.

Tip #2: Smile and give eye contact
Service workers LOVE to feel respected, liked and appreciated. When greeting them, look them in the eye, give your best smile and make their day! (Tip #1 is also very affective if used with this too).

Tip #3: Ask how they are doing
I render drive-thru voices speechless when I return their inquiries with a "How are you?" back. Rarely are my orders messed up.

Drive thru voice: "Hi, welcome to Arby's! How are you today? May I take your order?"
me: "I'm fine thanks, how are you?"
Drive-thru voice: silence... then "Ummm... I'm fine thanks!"

Believe it or not, people that work at fast food want to be reminded that they matter too.

Tip #4: Use "please" and "thank you"s
This is pretty much self explanatory. Service workers will respond to polite customers.

Tip #5: Never lose your cool
Don't ever freak out if they mess up on your order. No one is perfect, we are human and make mistakes. We don't know these workers, or what kind of day they are having... always treat them like they matter, and know that EVERY mistake can be corrected!

Example: Sometimes they forget my dressing or give me the wrong kind. I just politely wave them over and say nicely what my problem is. They usually don't give me garbage about it, but apologize and fix it. I have heard too many customers blow their tops when orders are filled wrong... it's embarrassing. We should be civil always.

Tip #6: Tip well if the service is good
Times are hard on us all! Even our local service workers. Some waiters and waitresses only get paid like 2 something an hour! They literally live off tips. If they do a good job, tip a little extra... and if you are a cad and treat them like garbage, tip them even better for putting up with you!

Tip #7: Don't be a slob
I know taking your kids out to eat can make a real mess, but there are things you can do to limit the disaster you make. Sure it's the bus boys job to clean up after you, but do you think they enjoy it? No, probably not, and if they are wading through spilled milk and smashed food, know they will remember your faces and tell people stories of your animal-like table manners. I used to have a bus boy friend in high school... the stories he would tell!

Just try to keep your messes limited and if you can't, make sure you apologize to the waitress as you leave. This always earns me brownie points after Sam and Nephi make food art all over the table....

Tip #8: A little small talk never hurts
Don't be afraid to reveal a little about yourself as you check out. Most of the people at Wal-Mart know me by face because I take the time to chat a little. They ALL know my husband is in the Army and ask about him often. The lady at my gas station where I stop and get drinks and treats every so often, has been following my weight loss and tells me how great I look when I stop in. We also have a play date planned for our kids.

You never know the friends you will make, days you will brighten, or the great service you can get when you treat everyone like a friend. Make it a goal. Especially with the holidays coming up, to be a good person to others. You can always tell the measure of a man by the way he treats his subordinates. Don't let the evil holiday monster come out, be your best self, and you will have a great rest of the year! I promise, that not only will you get better service, you may even make a few new friends.

Have a great day!

Do you have any you would like to add???


Jill said...

I agree. Kindness goes a long ways. Just ask my brother about his long ordeal with buying a house. As hard as it was for him to not choke the person on the other end of the phone, he was able to do it with kindness and his problem was fixed.

I can't say I've always been as nice as I needed to be. I usually try to be nice but after like 5 or 6 times of being "run over," I am usually more "assertive." ;)

Andrea said...

What a great post-thanks for the reminder. I always try to be kind to my waiter/waitress, but it's always good to get a reminder. I like that you mentioned to especially be kind around the holidays, they are stressful for everyone and you never know what little thing will make the difference in someone else's day. . . .it's important to be nice to the person in front of you at Walmart that is "taking forever" too. Thanks.

Tobi said...

Amen! Politeness begats politeness.

My order was messed up a little when I went to Taco Bell for my hot Army man date. I was calm and polite as I explained a simple mistake to the worker. I ended up getting my money back and they gave me my meal for free. All because I was kind and used my "pretty words."

Tay said...

Oh my Thank You for that! My husband and I worked in food to support our collegiate endeavors and definitely share your opinions. I also make it a point to thank my servers and tip them at least 15%. And if it's busy, be understanding. I was in charge (alone, mind you) of putting together To-Go orders and sometimes I was so overwhelmed by how many I had to do that I would forget things. And you know what, if they called and were nice I would accommodate and make sure they were satisfied. If they were rude, nasty and horrible I wouldn't even waste my time with them, I'd just apologize and hang up. Oh yeah - tip the Costa Vida To-Go girls. Do so and you will be remembered and your order done with care and love - meaning that if I knew they were tippers I would put lots of meat in their entree. :)

Sometimes it's truly shocking how badly people treat food service workers. They are equal to you and me! And how would you like to be treated in such a stressful environment, you know?

Oh, and while choosing a new furnace to replace our old piece of crap that died, we were kind and courteous to our serviceman and got a discount and a free year of their company's club membership. Yeah, it literally pays to be kind.

Great post.

Shan B. said...

I love this post. I hate it when people are rude. I try to be really nice. I can't believe your friend acted that way & I'm always picking up after my 2 boys when we go out. I feel so bad when they make a super duper mess & want to clean it up so they don't have to. Hopefully we can all remember to be kind to everyone...I know I will. Thanks!!

Nina said...

What a really lovely post! I was a waitress and a cleaner during my student days. I could never understand it when people treated me like a servant. But I am happy to say most people were lovely.

Single Mama NYC said...

These are actually clues into the kind of person YOU are. Kind, thoughtful, grateful, compassionate. Sam and Nephi are lucky to have a great Mama like you. And I'm glad to have you for a friend.

Blackhearted Sista said...

Great post! My boyfriend always calls our waitstaff by name and chit chats a bit before ordering. He learned this from his dad who's probably one of the best customers of all time. I will say it makes me laugh when he calls them by name, however. Almost like he's on a first date and he's trying too hard. But I think you're right, people respond to it.

Chief said...

I totally agree! There is nothing more effective than respect and kindness in getting what you want. and you make someone feel good at the same time

Our Family said...

Great post, Cat!