A Table in Maria’s Section: A Timeless Lesson in Delivering a Great Customer Experience
I found this great little home-owned café in my town a few months ago that makes a great breakfast. It’s one of those places you can smell the aroma from the parking lot. It is just as you would imagine; checkered cloths on the tables and a stack of extra chairs are located against the wall, just in case they are needed. The only contemporary event that takes place is that you must wait to be seated.
On my first visit, I was waiting in line for my turn to be seated when the couple in front of me asked if they could be seated in Maria’s section. I did not think much of it at the time until my next visit when the same thing happened again. A gentleman asked if there were any tables in Maria’s section. Now I was curious…what was so special about Maria’s section? Did it have a better view, was the room nicer; what? I had to find out so when it was my turn I too asked if there were any tables in Maria’s section…there were.
As I glanced at the menu to look at all the options, I looked up and coming into the room was the biggest smile carrying a coffee pot I had ever seen! She walked up and down the aisle, filling coffee cups, asking if there was anything she could do and conversing with folks like she had known them her entire life. As she approached me she said “Good Morning” My name is Maria and I am happy you stopped in our café for breakfast. May I start you with some coffee?” The entire time she was waiting on customers, she had this presence about her that she really enjoyed what she was doing. Whether it was delivering hot plates or clearing dirty ones she did each task with a purpose and an attitude of how much she enjoyed her job! I need to stop here and make a critical point. I truly believe if you have the opportunity to get up every morning and have the opportunity to open the doors of your establishment or are gainfully employed; you are blessed…even if part of your day consists of clearing away dirty dishes (you get the point!) I can tell you from personal experience of many folks my age who have been “let go” or “downsized” and are struggling with how they are going to make it. You not only hear it in their voice, you see the hurt in their face. So the next time you want to complain about your work…well please reconsider. Okay back to the story!
Needless to say, when I left that day, I too felt as if I had known Maria my entire life. There is just something about a person with a positive, welcoming approach to work and to life that draws you to them. Maria like all of us has the ability to make the best or the worst of what we do day after day. I don’t know if Maria’s goal in life is to be a waitress, if it is she will make the hall of fame. If she wants to pursue other aspirations, I am very confident the doors will be wide open.
So in closing; We need to make our customers and clients feel like they are sitting in Maria’s section every day. We need to make the most of and be thankful for our opportunities! How great would it be if customers wait in line at your place of business, just to work with you, or if all your clients could not wait to see you! So as we are now fully launched into another year, my hope is that all of us will follow the example of an extraordinary waitress named Maria, and make each encounter with those we serve, feel like a welcomed friend.
Tomorrow’s gonna be cold. I think I’ll start off with a good breakfast…sure hope Maria has an open table!