Not Good Enough for Us (Issue 600)

In which we are reminded to learn and use our companies' positioning language flawlessly.

Last week, I went to one of my favorite seafood restaurants for dinner with a friend to talk about the latest developments in higher education policy and delivery. You may think that is a little off the beaten path for me, but I grew up in an academic family and education, education management, and education policy have continued to be a very strong interest. But,  I digress.

Our meal was wonderful, as usual.

At the end of the meal, after the entrée and before dessert, it has been this restaurant’s custom to give each diner a “paper place mat” on which is written “Our Pledge,” a list of promises that the restaurant makes to its customers.

When our server put the placemat on the table in front of me, I (feeling playful as a result of the conversation and delightful dinner)  immediately turned it over, smiled, and said to our very wonderful  server, “This is great! I’d love to hear you say it. What’s the first Pledge?”

Our server double-blinked, took a step backwards, laughed, and said, “I don’t know.”

Unfortunately, my playfulness got the better of my politeness, and I pursued her despite the clear clue that this wasn’t going to go anywhere.

“Oh, come on, I said. “I’ll take any form of any one of the promises on the Pledge. Extra tip for you if you can do it.”

“I really can’t.”

So we ordered some dessert and coffee and I said to our server, before she left, “Learn a couple of these before you come back. There’s a bit extra for you in it if you do.”

She returned within a few minutes with our dessert and coffee, I looked up at her and asked, “What do you know?”

She looked at me and said, with a little bit of an edge, “You know, I don’t know. And I really don’t care.”

So there!

My dinner partner, by this time, had tired of the game so I let it go. Overcoming my nominal urge as I left the restaurant to encourage the restaurant manager to correct this deficiency, my friend and I left the restaurant peacefully and happily with half a piece of cheesecake in a take-out container for the road.

From the “Let This Be A Lesson To Us All” Department: What ever our companies say to our clients, we need to know it by heart and we need to be able to say it enthusiastically. Our server stumbled at even the most basic of the restaurant’s advertising taglines.

So maybe she doesn’t see herself as a salesperson, and maybe she doesn’t see that it’s her role to know these words, and maybe she’s concluded that the Pledge page is a complete waste of time, and maybe she figures that diners come to dine and not to quiz her on the company’s beliefs, philosophies, and Pledges. Fair enough.

But that ain’t good enough for the rest of us.

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