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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, August 02, 2005 12:02 AM
How May We Help?
Kevin Salwen on Passionate Work

From the moment I drove up to the new Longhorn Steakhouse, I knew this was going to be an extraordinary experience. The valet met me with an umbrella, while another valet brought one around to my kids. 'Just drop the umbrellas at the front door,' he instructed.

Once inside, despite having what could have been a painful ratio to almost any server -- 4 kids, 3 adults -- our waiter introduced himself as our 'personal assistant,' and explained that his goal was to have us experience 'terrific service so that you'll come back to ask for me again.' During the meal, not only was our server attentive, but the manager swung by to ask if everything was 'perfect' and then made a point of introducing himself by name and thanking us for coming as we were leaving.

Given a choice of going there and heading to another restaurant some night in the future will, of course, always be about the food, our mood, etc. But I'm sure this Longhorn will appear on the list each time to at least be discussed.

This makes me think how easy it is to provide terrific service. Isn't it just a matter of pre-considering what customers will require or want? Anticipation, it seems to me, is 80% of the game. The element of surprise may be part of it too. Few things can trigger a feeling of being well-served than something you may not have expected. What else needs to be on this list?


Mark - 8/7/2005 5:58:27 PM
We have been to the new Longhorn on Piedmont several times. They have done a fantastic job of customer service each time. Even when things didn't go quite right, they made it right to the max.
I wish everyone did as well as the Buckhead Longhorn!
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 8/2/2005 7:48:56 PM
Service is a much over used word and under used asset. I hear from so many companies that they are working on providing me with the best service around and yet I can't always get an answer. Phone companies, computer tech companies, financial institutions are among the ones I get most frustrated with.
Here's my mantra...
'under promise...over deliver.' Doesn't always work but I try.
Living la vida fearless...
Kevin - 8/2/2005 12:49:10 PM
I'd be lying if I said I didn't cringe during the first mention of 'personal assistant.' But we had fun with it during the meal and by the end, he was just P.A. to us.

Your point about quiet, unannounced service is a valid one. There probably was a bit of tip-mining in there....
Jeffrey - 8/2/2005 12:15:03 PM
Sounds like a great experience. The only thing that taints it for me is having someone announce they are going to give great service and explain why. Great service doesn't need to call attention to itself or be preceding by a foreshadowing announcement. It is offered as if doing anything else would be heresy and as such, great service is the norm. Don't scream core values at me. Exemplify them. 'Let the walking do the talking.' You'd still be gushing. And 'personal assistant?' Yuk.


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