Monday, 2 May 2011

Go Big or go Home!

Last week, while I was waiting to be served coffee in one of our local malls, the story of the New York cabbie (Tom Peters: Crazy Times call for Crazy Organizations) suddenly sprung to mind.
Why think about that, you may well ask.  The reason was plain and simple: poor service … again!  Or should I say, NO Service. I could have crawled to Colombia to harvest my own coffee beans.  Roast and grind it and made a cup of coffee before the waiters even condescended themselves to approach my table. The waiters and manager in this particular shop definitely never heard the story, for if they did they would have given their customers a WOW service! They would have made my experience special! But they did completely the opposite!
As the story goes, Harvey Mackay was taking a cab ride to La Guardia Airport. When he got in the cab the driver gave him a piece of paper that said: Hi, my name is Walter. I’m your driver. I’m going to get you there safely, on time, in a courteous fashion.
After that he offered him a choice between newspapers and what music channel he would like to listen to. He also offered a snack basket and a cellular phone for his use.
This cab driver took a common experience and transformed it into something special! Not so with the staff of the coffee shop.
Luckily I had my own WOW experience at the small Greek Taverna Yamas in Somerset West later that week.
It was an experience that lived up to all my favourite adjectives: WOW, remarkable, great, awesome and unforgettable!
The food at Yamas is amazing and affordable. The menu is small and so is the taverna.  The cutlery doesn’t match and there is no fancy signage that hangs above the main entrance.  But if you want to go and eat there, you have to book in advance for there is a waiting list to get a table at Yamas.
Why?  The key to this question lies with the owner/front of house/waiter/dishwasher, Barry.
I don’t know if Barry is familiar with the story of the NY cabbie, but he provides the same having a good time feeling to his restaurant. You enter as a stranger but leave as a friend and fan.
What can my useless friends in the coffee shop learn from Barry?
1. It’s not just the food or venue. It’s the service! Take time to spend personal time with your customers and talk to them like real people without thinking what you can make them buy.  Make a connection to the heart of your customer.
2. Surprise the customer with spirit, character, personality and last but not least, energy. Try to look if you enjoy what you do.
3. Go beyond what the customer expected. Deliver more than what he thought he will get.
4.  Make it fun! Make it an experience. Make it WOW!
There is a saying: Go big or go home. I want to change it to: Go GREEK or go home!
Thank you Barry for showing that I don’t have to go to NY to take a cab ride to experience WOW. 
I will be back.  Soon.

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