I’d just crossed through a sentence I’d written in a training series for the retail team at Godiva. To me, the sentence stated the obvious when it came to the importance of “product knowledge.” My internal dialogue went something like, “Who doesn’t know that, Joseph? It’s time to take a break and come back at this from a different angle.”
Fast forward an hour as I was in a new restaurant asking my server a question about an item on the menu. She responded, “I really don’t know.” I had my answer…this restaurant owner and this server “don’t know the importance of product knowledge.”
That dining experience taught me a great deal about how many basics of quality experience can be missed. In fact, the problems in that experience supported Will Rogers’ observation that even “common sense ain’t that common.”
I’ll spare you the details of the breakdowns I encountered during my attempt at dinner since this is not a Yelp review (oh, if only I had checked Yelp before I pulled into that parking lot).
Suffice it to say that this well-appointed restaurant may have had quality food. But I wouldn’t know since 45 minutes after placing my order, I hadn’t seen an entrée arrive on my table. And of course the server couldn’t or didn’t have an interest in hunting it down when I signaled her to settle up on my beverage. Nor did the owner ever contact me based on the information I offered on my comment card.
Despite not being able to get food at dinner, I am grateful to that restauranteur!
I went back to my training project with renewed fervor to set the foundation before I launched into more “advanced” knowledge. Here are a few common themes you may want to consider for your business:
1) Make sure your people know the basics and the nuances of your product or service deliverables.
2) Design not only your physical environment but your service experience as well.
3) Assure that your people know how to handle breakdowns graciously.
4) Hire people who care about others.
5) Emphasize the importance of helping guests/customers leave your building happier than they came in (not wanting to write a “experience improvement” blog about you).
What are the “common” service elements you frequently see lacking?
Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.
Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli
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