I made the dinner reservation using the Open Table app on my phone, a reservation for a celebration dinner, taking a friend out to celebrate her recent completion of graduate school work. The Open Table app includes a space where one can indicate whether it’s a date, birthday, special occasion, or business meal and a text box for “special requests.” I was moved to note in Special Requests that we were celebrating completion of a graduate school year.
The restaurant, Compère Lapin, in New Orleans is named after the rabbit trickster character who appears in Creole and Caribbean folk tales.
When we arrived at the restaurant, dead on the expected time, the greeter asked for my name, which I shared, and he poked at his tablet to confirm we had arrived. Then he looked up, straight at my companion, and said, with warm enthusiasm, “Good evening, welcome, and congratulations on completing your graduate school work.” Nobody could’ve been more surprised than I! No other restaurant has responded to my Special Requests in an Open Table reservation.
Shortly thereafter, we were seated. When our waiter approached the table, he greeted us, shared his name, and then asked, “Which one of you is celebrating graduate school?“ When I indicated that it was my companion, he turned to her and said, “Congratulations!”
We were delighted when our meals arrived and we enjoyed every morsel. FABulous!
When we had finished our entrées, a tall, young man approached the table to take our now clean plates; he looked at my companion, and said, “Congratulations on finishing your graduate school.” This is a busboy we’re talking about!
After we were leaving the restaurant, I approached a small cluster of staff in the dining room and said, “May I speak to your floor manager, please?“
One of the them turned to me and said, “I think I can help you; what’s happening?“
So I shared how very pleased we had been with our meals and the service and how particularly special we had felt when three of his team members at separate times had congratulated my companion on completing her graduate school work.
He responded, “Well, good evening, I’m Larry Miller, I own the place, and I’m delighted to hear your story, that’s what we strive for here.”
It’s been about a month since our meal. I don’t remember all the details of our dinner – one of us had curried goat; the other, snapper. I will remember for years the reception we received at the restaurant and how extraordinary those moments made the evening. Simple examples of paying attention and personalizing an otherwise wonderful yet routine dining experience.
People may not remember exactly what we sell, or exactly for whom we work, but they will remember us if we pay attention to them and personalize what we do in ways that are meaningful for them.
Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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