Are You Flexible Enough to Respond to Customer Desires?

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Stopped by our local East Side Mario’s for dinner the other night. It was a nice night and since it was mid-week the restaurant wasn’t too busy, so we decided to sit on the patio. However, when we asked the hostess to be seated outside we were told that it would be 15 – 20 minutes before we could be seated. However, we could be seated immediately if we wanted to sit inside.

When I asked why we couldn’t be seated outside immediately — since approximately 50% of the tables were open — we were told that there wasn’t enough staff scheduled on the patio to serve more tables.

My Perspective: If there were enough staff in the restaurant to serve the total number of customers — then why couldn’t they simply reallocate some of the inside staff to serve outside on the patio?

It was such a nice night outside that people wanted to enjoy the evening. In fact people were waiting for tables — while servers inside stood around since their tables weren’t full.

My guess is that staff had been scheduled to stations in advance and that no one either had the authority or the initiative to adjust the staffing arrangement to address the customer desire as a result of the weather. Seemed kind of a no-brainer to the customer — but if the management hasn’t built in this type of flexibility then they will often be faced with disgruntled customers who can’t understand why there are silly rules preventing them from achieving their desired outcomes.

Is there any rules in your business that seem silly to the customer — even though they make sense to you?

Have a look at your processes through the eyes of the customer and see if you see any areas for adjustment that can increase your opportunity to delight your customers. If you can’t see any holes — ask someone who doesn’t work in the business to have a look. They might see something you miss because they see things through fresh eyes.

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