The family and I just returned from an impromptu dinner out at a local Mexican fare restaurant. We went not because of the food, reputation for fabulous service, or the like. We patronized because we had been once before (and survived), and more importantly it was next door to the place where I had my flat tire repaired.
The food is average, the service okay. But, my reason for writing about this experience is to exemplify how easy it could have been to make the experience memorable. Not every astounding customer interaction needs to be the take it to the limit stuff you usually read about.
Here goes....the waiter, a personable and knowledgeable young man did the usual: brought the menu, greeted us with a smile,ask if we cared for a drink, etc. He did one more thing...he recognized we had our 11 month old daughter with us, and commented how "beautiful" she was, and asked for her name! Outstanding, Mr. Waiter, you passed the first service test, you started making the experience personal. Not in an overly sort of way which he could have done by asking my wife's name (yes, this happens, mostly in hotels). But, he recognized how much most parents like having their children doted on. And, he threw in the fact he had a two month old to further justify his interest. But, here is the important point....he could have blown us away by taking one more step....and, unfortunately for Picante (the name of the restaurant), he didn't.
Wouldn't it have been fabulous if he had come back to the table later, perhaps even as a parting gesture, and given my daughter some sort of little gift (hat, bow, sippy cup, toy, etc.) with her Name On It!, to further pesonalize the experience, and permanently etch it into our memory bank. It wouldn't have cost much, and I guarantee you he would have far exceeded our expectation......tada Memorable Service! We would have had little difficulty telling that story about a hundred times. And, just think if that sort of service creativity was adopted by every employee at the place, management, ownership, etc. There would be lines out the door, and the food could be just okay. They'd be playing the "Service Edge" (Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin) like the fiddle.
But, as it stands, we probably won't say much about Picante, unless we know you're getting your tire fixed next door.