As you may have read in past Shepard Letter articles, I believe that communication is the cornerstone to good customer and employee relationships. One of my favorite strategies is to “Ask the extra question.” This ensures you have a better understanding of what your customer wants and expects. Here is something that happened to me and my colleagues at a recent meeting in Washington, DC.
We decided to have lunch at a pub. The menu had a number of great looking appetizers. Along with our lunch entrees, we ordered several of them. One of the appetizers was mini-hamburgers; three to an order. Well, there were seven of us. I nicely asked the server that since there were three to an order, and there were seven of us, could they make seven and just charge us for it. He said, “No problem.”
Out came the appetizers. There were chicken wings, nachos and… seven orders of mini-hamburgers. Not seven burgers, but seven orders of burgers. That’s 21 burgers total. At first we were shocked. The server, with an embarrassing look on his face said, “It did seem like you were ordering too much food.”
So, why didn’t he ask us about it? He admitted it didn’t seem right. No, he didn’t ask the extra question, and we ended up boxing up 15 hamburgers. The good news is that there were some homeless people in the park across the street that had a nice lunch, thanks to our server’s lapse in common sense.
The Lesson: Sometimes people say something and mean something else. Or, you may simply not understand someone. Avoid problems. Avoid confusion. Most important, avoid letting down a customer. Ask the extra question(s).