I recently went to breakfast with a business colleague at a fairly large hotel restaurant.
Now if you’re like me, and most people I know, you’d look for the sign that gives the instructions about how I’m about to be served. Either; “please seat yourself”, or, “please wait to be seated”. We saw neither.
And to make things even more confusing, there was NO ONE in any direction to help tell us with what we should do. Not wanting to break the unwritten rule we did not see, we waited. And waited. And waited.
After about 4 to 5 minutes we decided to seat ourselves and help ourselves to the breakfast buffet. We put our coffee, juice and first plate down and went to retrieve some silverware. When we got back to our table we found that our food had been cleared and table washed down.
While standing there more than somewhat both stunned and amused, the server mysteriously appeared again and when we mentioned what had happened she matter-of-factly responded that we could help ourselves to more food. And she disappeared again.
After finally re-loading our plates we found the eggs runny, the fruit not ripe, the coffee cold and the juice warm.
Be obsessive about how well you greet, and treat, your customers. If you miss the mark with their first expectation, chances are that human nature will find other elements of your service that won’t measure up. Just so you know, first impressions still count, a lot. Customers have expectations about how they will be served. What “signs” are you giving yours’?