Is Everyone On Your Team An A-Player? Customer Service Lessons are Everywhere!! – Part IV

Last week I discussed a serious Customer Service Fail that I experienced at the Specialist Doctor’s Office, and how the staff there got caught up with minutiae in their office and dropped the ball with respect to me, their customer by not sticking to their systems.

I also mentioned that I had experienced another Customer Service Fail on the same day, of a similar type but with a very different lesson…

So here’s what happened when I met my wife for lunch at the Bookstore Restaurant.

There’s a bookstore, barn, situated on a vineyard, down near where my wife and I have our farm. A great bookstore, with new and second hand, pre-loved books as well. In the last two years or so, the bookstore has been overhauled, and books moved out, and a new kitchen and food/restaurant focus has seen the venue become a recommended and desirable place to dine.

We had yet to dine there, but we had heard glowing reports about the place. I also wanted to peruse their books, as I have a small collection of second hand books in a niche subject. More on that some other time.

So I arrived at the restaurant slightly earlier than my wife.

A sign at the door read, “Please wait to be seated”.

Well it was correct. I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

I re-read the sign. It did not read “Please wait *here* to be seated”.  It just read, “wait”.

The restaurant was relatively full, well about, three quarters. Though small, it probably had seating for fifty. I had time, boy did I have time, to notice that there were no vacant tables for two, but there were two vacant tables for four people available.

I watched a waitress emerge from a kitchen area at a distant corner, serve a table, and then retreat back to that kitchen area. No eye contact with me. No looking around the restaurant. No recognition or sign to me, at all.

Finally, after what seemed like many minutes, a casually dressed maître de emerged from a second kitchen area in another corner to greet me. I confirmed our reservation, and explained that my wife was travelling from separately.

He ushered me to a table set for four, with two menus, then proceeded to remove two of the settings.

He did not ask me whether I had dined with them before, nor how I found out about them.

Nor did he offer any procedural information….who would be over to offer me drinks, who would be over to tell me the specials and take my order. Nothing was forthcoming.

Finally a waitress came to offer me a choice of still or sparkling water. I chose still, but also chose to ask her for an adult beverage which was brought promptly.

When my wife arrived, she entered and sat herself with me. The maître de was nowhere to be seen. My wife’s arrival was not noted by any staff, as she had to signal, finally, for someone to come and take a beverage order.

We ordered our meal at the same time. Interestingly, our meals seemed to take an eternity to arrive.

Firstly, we had to order replacement pre-lunch beverages. This is not a good sign. Secondly, we noted that not one, but two tables of diners who had arrived after my wife were enjoying their meals while my wife and I still waited.

An hour after arriving, our meals arrived. This was not good.

With regard to our multiple pre-lunch drinks, we had to ask and call out to our maître de for refills. This was sad. On one occasion he was clearing a vacated table. On another, he seemed to be just skimming the room, but not noting the detail, for example, that we were sitting with empty glasses.

Sadly, the food was good, but the service, on a not so busy Monday afternoon let the restaurant down.

We heard later, from elsewhere, that the regular maître de for this restaurant had been called away from his job, due to personal reasons.

Sadly, his replacement was a lower grade player, and was not up to the demands of the top league. And therein lies the problem.

What we need to do, in any business, is know that our replacement players are up to the task. At this restaurant, that was not the case.

So how is it at your dental office? Are there junior, or less experienced team members stepping up to the top jobs but without the runs on the board?

For the restaurant’s sake, we were lucky to have heard that the #1 Maître de had been called away. Otherwise, we may have thought that this “level” of service was their norm, or their “benchmark”.

Still, it’s not really good enough, is it? It’s not good enough to put someone less than best, when best is expected.

Why wasn’t best practice trained into the replacement? And who on earth thought that this restaurant could get away with it, without the customers discerning and recognizing, that there was a significant difference between their regular team, and their fill ins?

So again, I ask you, is this what happens at your office?

Are there times, either hours or days, when you substitute a B-player for an A-player, and hope that the job gets done OK?

Do you think your clients or customers or patients really deserve to deal with B-players?

How can you rectify this situation? Why are your B-players B-players at all? Why haven’t you trained them up the A-level?

There’s no reason at all that your office should even have B-players.

Everyone on your team should be an A-player, with an A-player game.

Your customers, clients, and patients deserve the best. Nothing but the best. Only the best will do. And must do.

All of the time. Every time.


The correct use of systems is just one of the  many straight forward and easy to implement  protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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