How Chemistry & Flash-Fried Broccoli Create Great Customer Service

New restaurants are popping up all over Nashville and it’s always fun to try them out. Such was the case on a recent visit to Jack and Jameson’s Smokehouse. And what a surprise that was in store for us when our server Gibb greeted us. He provided great customer service and even shared the science behind flash-fried broccoli. And that was just the beginning of our fun customer experience at this local restaurant.

We were his GUEST.
As soon we sat down Gibb came to our table, introduced himself. As soon as her learned it was our first visit, he turned on the charm. He told us a bit about the history of the restaurant, the menu and what we could expect during our meal. It’s as if we were guests in his home – you know that feeling? Well, Gibb created that feeling for us.

He knew MORE than the menu.
As we ordered our entrees it got fun. The Smokehouse has a flash fried broccoli item as a side dish. It was not the only interesting item listed but that’s the one that got our attention. When we asked about it, we entered Gibb’s fun classroom. He explained their process for flash fried and said, “Do you know much about biology?” We, of course said no. Then he said, “It’s our cool process that makes our broccoli ‘the bomb’”. (The technique actually seals in the nutrients better than steaming it.) Anyway, it didn’t stop there. Gibbs had a story for every item we inquired about – from customer favorites to interesting ingredients. Through his approach, we anxiously awaited the arrival of our food.

He created an EXPERIENCE with us.
This statement probably speak for itself, but it needs to be said. Gibb not only provided customer service; he created an experience with us. At one point, he said “I love my stories but I want to be sure I’m not yapping your ear off!” But through our laughter and questions, his stories created part of our fun.

When it was time for dessert, Gibb told us about their famous cheesecake and the “cinnewaffle”. He laughed and told us about a rule the restaurant had to make about the cheesecake, “Servers get 1/2 off of menu items – a great perk – but because the cheesecake was SO popular, they stopped offering the discount on that item!” Another story but one that added to our visit.

So here’s what you need to know about Gibb. Like more restaurants, he works part time. He’s actually a double major (accounting and finance) at UT Knoxville. He’s a Franklin native which brought him to the restaurant for the summer. And it became a great treat for us.

So what can you learn from chemistry, flash-fried broccoli and customer service? Well, it’s actually some lessons from Gibb. For every person on your team, how would you answer these questions?

  1. Does every employee make your customers feel like a guest in their home?
  2. Does every employee know every detail about your products and/or services – so much so, they can share stories with your customers to engage them?
  3. Does every employee create such an experience with your customers, they want to tell someone else about it (in a good way)?

If you answered no, I’ll connect you with Gibb. Maybe he can fit you in for a quick lesson between his classes at UT. Hmm… maybe we all could use a little school this fall?

Guest Post: A lemon into LEMONADE

When great service occurs, you have to share it! Thanks to our friend and biz partner Dennis Jackson for this week’s guest post.

This spring my wife and I were traveling back from Texas to Tennessee.  After a long days drive we decided to call it a day in east central Arkansas.  There were many choices but we elected to go to the Hampton Inn because  they normally provide a consistent and quality nights stay.Continue reading “Guest Post: A lemon into LEMONADE”

How a Cookie Created a WOW Customer Experience

Have you been there? You finish a delicious meal, are satisfied and even “full” and the server entices you with dessert. That happened to me recently, and I must tell you, the way the experience unfolded created a WOW customer experience moment.

Meet Mandi. She’s works at Blue, one of Marriott’s dine-in offerings at its Savannah, Georgia hotel. It had been a long day of travel for me. I checked in to the hotel around 7:30 pm and just wanted to grab a quick bite before ending my day (picture it…I’m tired). 

I finished dinner – the shrimp & grits were great – and as typically happens, my server Mandi asked me if I was interested in dessert.  I casually asked if they had a cookie.  I just wanted a small taste of something sweet to complete the meal (and be my treat for the long day on the road).

IMG_8806And then this happened.  Mandi said, “I’ll be right back.”  She returned about 5 minutes later with get this…not just a cookie but a cookie assortment.  I was stunned and told her to please add the cookies to my bill.  Then it got even better.  Mandi replied, “Absolutely not.  Those are complementary.  You’ve had a long day. Enjoy them on us.”  I thanked her and she simply said, “That’s my job.  I’m here to give you a great experience.”

Now THAT’S service that created a remarkable customer experience. Mandi demonstrated several “extra” skills that made me want to share this story.

She was observant.
Throughout my meal Mandi interacted with me and in those conversations she learned I was in town for a conference and had just arrived to the hotel.  She also noticed my tired face.  Part of her job was to allow me privacy to enjoy my meal ; but she also recognized my emotional and physical state…and that is what she responded to.

She was resourceful.
Blue’s kitchen didn’t have any cookies.  Mandi went to the concierge desk in the hotel lobby and requested them.  She knew the banquet area used those cookies for in-house meetings and suspected there were extras from the day.  In all fairness, the easy answer would have been for her to say no to my cookie request.  But she took that extra step.

She was focused.
Sure, Mandi’s job was to serve my meal and provide customer service.  That is expected.  However, she was focused on taking care of me and taking that extra step to give me a great experience.  Those moments don’t happen by accident; they must be intentional.  And Mandi’s focus on that role is what took my dinner from a meal to an experience I wanted to tell others about.

Mandi is a wonderful asset for Blue and Marriott.  So I’m wondering, how many “Mandi’s” does your business have?  How do you know?  Your customers are talking about them.

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Guest Post: Social Security Loopholes Take a Hit

We always thank our friend & colleague Ivie Burns for keeping us updated on retirement benefit tips.

As part of last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Congress approved some major changes to Social Security which could impact your benefits. Designed to eliminate “loopholes,” the new rules will mostly impact married dual-income couples. It is estimated that couples could stand to lose as much as $60,000 Continue reading “Guest Post: Social Security Loopholes Take a Hit”

Service with a side of Heath Bar!

Nashville really has some great entertainment options.  I recently saw Beauty and the Beast at TPAC and of course, dinner before the show made for a perfect evening.  We chose Demos’, a downtown favorite for locals.  Everything on the menu is great but honestly, I go for the salad and bread (awesome combo).  We had the pleasure of sitting in Brittany’s section and what a delight she was!

As you can see in her picture, Brittany is all smiles and our experience with her was all smiles too.  So, what does the Heath Bar have to do with customer service? Well, after our salad and rolls (our meal), Brittany asked us if we wanted dessert.  As she described the options, she mentioned the cheesecake could be served with Heath Bar bits on top.  We really were full from dinner but that “little taste” of something sweet sounded good.  So in jest  we asked if it was possible to just get the Heath Bar bits.  And with that she paused and said,”Hmmm…that’s a great question. I’ll be right back!”  About 4 minutes later she showed back up at our table with a small bowl of, you guessed it, Heath Bar bits.  She laughed and said, “I told the kitchen you have to give me the Heath Bar!”  It was a first to receive that request but certainly not her first to wow a customer.

As we walked to the show I couldn’t help but think about the delightful experience we had at dinner.  Brittany brought many qualities to her service but I think these attributes really stood out:

She wanted to be there.
Brittany enjoyed her job.  How do I know?  Her facial expressions said it; her body language said it; and her words echoed it.  What a difference it makes when your employee wants to be at work doing his/her job.  That mindset is contagious and naturally creates a memorable experience for customers.

She was a problem solver.
Our conversation with Brittany about the desserts started with a few questions about the menu.  But when we jokingly mentioned the Heath Bar, she quickly moved to “problem solver”.  We had a request (although silly) and Brittany saw her job to meet it.  What about your team? Do your employees actively look to resolve issues and discover solutions for your customers?  It’s that one degree of difference that creates a “WOW”.

She took that one extra step.
Finally, what really took our experience over the top was the way Brittany did those many little things that took our dining experience from ordinary to extraordinary.  A hint from us sent her to the kitchen looking for a way to meet and exceed expectations.  And chatting us with throughout our meal in a way that was natural and genuine created a warm atmosphere.  In your world, how often do your customers comment on how you employees wow them?  When your employees do this, customers really can’t resist speaking up…and in a good way.

Beauty and the Beast was wonderful.  It was the reason for the night out but truthfully, the dining experience at Demos’ with Brittany was a definite highlight of the night.  The audience gave the show a standing ovation.  And you know what?  Brittany deserved one too!

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