My Pleasure

A local restaurant where I sometimes have lunch is under new ownership.

As far as I know there was nothing wrong with the old ownership, so hopefully this is just a normal, time-to-move-on being.

(A nice thought, that normal things do happen, even in abnormal economies.)

The menu hasn’t changed, but food quality has gone up. That surprised me—food quality was already very good for a quickservice restaurant.

The place was always clean, but it might be a bit cleaner now. In fact, nice, but incremental changes hardly anyone would notice were instantly everywhere, including in the smiling face of the ever present new owner. Together they do make a big difference to the Customer Experience.

The thing I’ve noticed most is a fascinating detail that I have no doubt was chosen with extreme care; one which probably required quite a bit of retraining in order to convince employees who stayed on (I’ve seen little turnover in the three or four months since the change) to implement it consistently. Yet like the cleaner floors and better food, it appeared instantly when the new owner took over and has remained almost flawlessly in place.

“My pleasure.”

At first I thought I was imagining it, or that it was a quirk of just one employee. But no, this tiny phrase is a deliberate decision, the new owner’s signature, stamped on every interaction:

May I have another Diet Coke?

“My pleasure.”

Thanks.

“My pleasure.”

It’s a little wearing, to be honest. The grand “My pleasure” every time a simple “Yes” or “Sure” or “You’re welcome” would do.

For a while I couldn’t stand it, but it’s kinda tough to complain about a surplus of manners while the rest of the world goes to hell in a handbasket completely devoid of manners, so I continue to smile and thank each person again for their grace.

How much?

“$16.56.”

Here’s my card.

“My pleasure.”

Thanks.

“My pleasure.”

Thanks very much.

“My…

Oh, somebody stop me from thanking them!

The new owner’s stamp on the fine customer service at his restaurant. It’s as distinctive as if he’d re-covered the chair—and to be honest, twice as memorable.

But this post isn’t about “My pleasure.”

In the past few weeks I’ve been served twice by one employee whose face has definitely been around for quite a while. She’s nice. She gets us our food. And this post is about her.

Because she says, “You’re welcome.” While the new owner’s signature phrase echoes from every other transaction in the store, she even says, “Sure.”

When the new owner’s got his sea legs and he’s ready to make changes, she has got to go.

Maximum Customer Experience will always require maximum staff buy-in. This guy must be a heck of a motivator because his staff is 99 3/4% behind him.

The devil is in the details. And even more, in the details of those details!

That 1/4% that I can see as an outsider may be a sign of other issues with this employee, or it may not. What’s for certain, is that 1/4% is the tiny crack in his strategy through which an army of new staff who won’t respect his policies can walk, over time.

Sometimes a hundred performance measures miss what’s staring your customers in the face. To hang on to those incremental changes that have brightened a lot of lunches, Ms. “You’re welcome” must be fired.

Sometimes, marching to the beat of a different drummer is really a middle finger to the rules in disguise.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson