Can I Please Have Some Ketchup?

While on vacation with my wife and daughter this past weekend we were eating out and my daughter politely asked our waiter for some ketchup.  Simple enough right?  Well, the waiter stops and gets the attention of every guest in the entire restaurant by yelling “I NEED KETCHUP”!  About 30 seconds later we had 17 bottles of ketchup at our table brought by every guest that had previously had a bottle on their table.  My daughter thought it was great!  A short time after that, I asked for a refill on my Diet Coke and the waiter said “absolutely!” with a mischievous look on his face.  I was surprised when he returned with the largest glass of diet coke I have ever seen.  It was hilarious!  A table behind us was celebrating a birthday and their waitress gave the young boy his choice – have all the kids in the restaurant come to the table and sing Happy Birthday to him or have his parents run around the restaurant on wooden ponies while singing Happy Birthday really loudly.  His parents were very good sports.

Now I fully realize that these types of gimmicks are not appropriate for most restaurants but these three very simple things made our experience a really positive one and we could tell that the other guests at the restaurant enjoyed the unique experience as well.   In different ways, everyone should be trying to make their guests’ experience special.

  • Make it memorable.  Dining out is a major part of your guests’ entertainment dollars and they come to you for more than just a meal.
  • WOW your guests!  Whether it is with your food, service or décor, it goes a very long way when a guest says “WOW!  That was really great!”
  • Make it personalized.  Guests truly enjoy getting to know the staff and they then have a connection to your establishment.

We all know how easy it is to talk about a bad customer service experience.  From our research over the years, we have found that a very bad experience will initiate several conversations with an average of nine people hearing about the negative experience.  The reason that people talk about poor service is that it creates an interesting story and they tell it over and over until they get bored with it.

Research shows that a very good experience is passed on to only an average of two people because it does not get the same response that the bad experience does.

You obviously want to control the negative comments but the real opportunity here is to get people talking about your restaurant in a really positive way.  It has to be a fantastic experience where you exceeded their expectations.  Or, it could be a very memorable experience and that could be as easy as delivering some ketchup.

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