IÂ had dinner out with friends two nights in a row this past week. Both were nice restaurants where you’d expect great customer service. But only one delivered. Here’s how it played out.
The first night, our waiter had two noticeable habits. The first, which was unique to him above any server I’ve ever had, is that instead of grabbing a plate to clear the table he would hold out his hand in front of it. He did this to each of us and it took us each a moment to figure out what he was doing. We eventually realized he was waiting for us to hand our plates to him. While this is hard to describe with words on a blog post, I can do a killer impression of him in person.
The second thing this waiter did is to ask us every time our glass was empty if we wanted a refill. And every single time he got the exact same answer. What is he afraid of? That I’d suddenly realize I had a plethora of Dr. Pepper in my glass and look for someone to take it out on? If my glass is empty, fill it. You can make that call on your own.The next night, our server was the complete opposite. I felt like an English gentleman after he spoke to me. He commonly used the phrase “my pleasure” when we’d ask him for something or give him feedback on what food we were enjoying. If you got up to use the restroom you’d return to find your napkin elaborately folded on the table in front of you.
The differences were so extreme that our waiters were the topic of many discussions among us the last few days.
Both served us food, both cleaned up our excess dining ware, and both provided refills (eventually). While they are both doing the same job, it’s the little things that set them miles apart. As a result, our experiences were dramatically different between the two meals.
Often the question for us to consider is not what we are doing, but how we are doing it. Sure, there may be many other people in your line of work or with your same talents. It’s the how that determines whether you rise above the rest. And the how is usually defined by little things.
Like getting a refill on your own initiative,
or adding a personal touch to build a relationship,
or showing up early,
or staying late,
or regularly delivering more than people expect,
or doing it “the old fashioned way,”
or personally sacrificing of yourself to the benefit of others.
What are one or two howsÂ you can commit to do today which set you apart? Find something subtle, especially if nobody else is doing it, and make the people around you stop to notice. You may not be able to change the what, but you are in complete control of the how.