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Saturday, July 17, 2004 12:23 AM
Pestering 101, a Customer Service Tale
Kevin Salwen on Culture

I had breakfast yesterday with Cynthia Scott, a very smart consultant in San Francisco who is helping with the print edition of Worthwhile. During our breakfast -- as I was trying to learn more about both her background and her magazine ideas -- a series of waiters, busboys, managers, and others with less descript jobs stopped by. More coffee? Is everything OK? More water? Are you finished? Are you finished? Are you finished?

There's a Brazilian steakhouse I like that could teach some serious lessons in as-needed customer service. When you sit down, you get a card (it looks like a coaster) on which one side is green and the other is red. When you want the waiters to bring more food, you leave the green side up. It says you are interested in interacting with them. When you're done -- read that, leave me alone please -- the red side faces up. If every restaurant had that, wouldn't meals be much more pleasant?


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Paughnee - 7/19/2004 12:20:58 PM
I wrote about this very thing in my company blog (behind a firewall so I won't share the link). I experienced too much attention in one store and not enough attention in the next. It seems to me that customer service reps., wait staff, etc. should try to find out what level of service each customer desires and make adjustments accordingly.

I'm sure you've heard the Platinum Rule of service: Treat customers the way THEY want to be treated. Sounds like your Brazilian steakhouse has figured out a way to make it easier to do that.
Andreas Duess - 7/17/2004 11:45:56 PM
Totally agree with you, Kevin. I hate getting over-serviced. It is as bad, if not worse, than not enough service.
I am sure Cynthia is all the things you say she is, but who on earth wrote her bio? (Your link). Talk about buzzword central. Whatever happened to plain English?
Alex - 7/17/2004 11:22:03 PM
Eh. Stopping by every few minutes to check on everything is a tradition/formality that restaurants have, like 'Welcome to Moe's!' In the end, I'd rather have too much customer service than too little. If you don't want people to talk to you, a restaurant is not the place to be. I know that I like to go to restaurants so I don't have to cook, clean, etc; I want to be pampered when I go out.

However, I'm sure that, just like changing how a dish is cooked, you can ask them to hold the customer service...I'm just not too sure how well that would be taken.


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