What’s Your Baseline of Care?
Everyone has one.
Whether you’re a paid staff member or an unpaid volunteer, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie, whether you know your job description backwards and forwards or you’re just trying to figure it out as you go, you have a lower limit.
It’s a limit you’ll default to when you’re not paying attention. A limit you’ll drift to when you didn’t bring your A game. And it’s a limit that your guest will notice every single time.
I discovered a waiter’s baseline a few weeks ago. I was at lunch with some friends – actually, some friends in the guest services field – and the waiter’s baseline was pretty evident pretty quick. He barely made eye contact as we placed our order. He barely allowed us to get one request out before he took off from the table, ignoring subsequent requests. It’s not that we were bad customers (I don’t think we were). It’s not that we were a hostile table (we were rather friendly). But his baseline told us that we were far from his first priority that day.
At one point, my wife asked for a refill of tea: half sweet, half unsweet. A friend across the table asked for a refill of sweet. The waiter disappeared for a few moments, returned with two identical glasses, and sat them down in front of my wife and our friend.
“Yeah, so uh, one of those is half and half and one is sweet.”
“Um. Do you know which is which?”
Our waiter shrugged his shoulders, said, “I don’t know,” and walked away.
Maybe you need to read that again…slowly…to relish the full effect. You had to see it to believe it.
A table full of guest services practitioners saw it, and I’m still not sure we believe it.
That was our waiter friend’s baseline of service. We refused to retaliate by undercutting his tip, but I have a feeling it would’ve been a lot better had he at least tried.
So what’s your baseline? What is the bare minimum you default to when you’re phoning it in? I can guarantee your guests notice it. Maybe you can notice it (and thereby fix it) before they do.