The waitress asked, “Are you enjoying everything?” My wife and I were dining at a very nice Italian restaurant in North Carolina. The service was good, the food excellent but we weren’t enjoying everything.
Brand Essence is a complex composite of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, opinion and mood - the mental image summoned by a name, even when the name is heard silently in the mind. The “Brand Essence” of your business lies in the mind of your consumer and there are often factors out of your direct control that adversely affect the way people feel about you.
Customers who arrive at your business in a bad mood and leave in a bad mood probably aren’t going to have the best mental image of your business despite your best efforts. Sometimes your best efforts could are sabotaged by your customers who can adversely effect another customer’s experience.
Now back to the Italian restaurant. In the middle of our dinner the hat wearing (don’t get me started on the rudeness of wearing hats in restaurants) “gentleman” to my right pulls out his cell phone, calls his daughter and begins berating her for not calling her mother. It was a classic “What the Hell?” moment.
Suddenly, a cell phone rings to my left. The offending party pulls out her phone and apparently shuts it off (excellent). A few seconds later it rings again, this time her companion enthusiastically tells her to answer it. If there is a Hell it will be filled with people on cell phones. (Etiquette note: If you must take a call, leave the dining room and let others eat in peace.)
What could have been an exceptional dining experience wasn’t simply because of the rudeness of other nearby diners. Perhaps I should have answered rudeness with rudeness but any rebuke from would have fallen on deaf ears. If you haven’t learned restaurant manners by the time you’re twenty, it’s probably too late.
I offer two ideas for restaurateurs.
When greeting customers have your host or hostess ask: “Smoking or Non-Smoking? Cell Phone or No Cell Phone?” Set aside a special section next to the kitchen so anyone who wishes may talk to their heart’s content.
When a customer starts talking on the cell phone have your staff run to the offending table with glass partitions to form a phone booth. Have them sing a telephone song to drown out the conversation for your other customers. Upon completion of the call, everyone claps and cheers.
Now that would be something I’d really enjoy!