An excerpt from Customer Love by Mac Anderson.

The following story was told by my friend Phillip Van Hooser, in his book titled: Willie’s Way. I really like it and hope you will too.

The conversation was pleasant. Earlier in the day I had presented a service professionalism training program for the Georgia Club Managers’ Association, a group of managers representing some of the finest city, athletic, golf, and country clubs throughout the state of Georgia. Now I found myself dining with nine of the most highly respected leaders in the field of club management. Somewhere between the appetizer and the salad, Manuel de Juan, general manager of the host, Capital City Club, spoke.

“Phillip, I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation today. I especially enjoyed the stories you shared to illustrate your content points. As a matter of fact, at one point during your presentation, I almost interrupted you to share one of my stories I thought you might enjoy.”

He said, “The occasion was Easter Sunday and the day found more than 500 club members and their guests crowded into the overflowing Capital City Club restaurant. As they waited to dine, a club member and his four dinner guests approached the bar where they were greeted by the head bartender, Bob, who quickly began to take and fill each drink order. Everything progressed as might be expected until one of the guests placed an order for a specialty drink.

‘I would like a sazerac, please.’

‘A sazerac?’ Bob asked curiously. ‘Sir, I’m sorry but I’m unfamiliar with that particular drink. However, if you’ll share its ingredients with me, I will be happy to make you one.’

‘That’s the problem,’ the guest explained. ‘I was in New Orleans on business recently and I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel. During my visit, I went into the hotel bar and the bartender suggested I try the house specialty, a sazerac. I remember the name of the drink because it was the same as that of the bar. Anyway, I tried the drink and I loved it.

Since then though, whenever I’ve tried to order it in other bars around the country I always get the same response, ‘never heard of it.’ I was hoping a place like the Capital City Club would be different. But never mind. Don’t worry about it. Just give me a Bloody Mary instead.’

Bob filled the revised drink order, and as soon as the guest left the bar to rejoin his party, Bob took his break and headed straight to the nearest telephone. He called information and requested the number for the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once connected to the Fairmont, Bob asked for the Sazerac Bar. Within seconds, Bob was talking directly with a previously anonymous professional colleague in a bar several hundred miles away.

‘My name is Bob and I am the head bartender at the Capital City Club here in Atlanta. A few minutes ago I had a gentleman order a sazerac. He told me he was introduced to it while visiting your bar. I was wondering if you would be willing to share the recipe with me so I can fill his order?’

Bob’s New Orleans counterpart was happy to oblige.

Within a few short minutes, Bob confidently approached the guest’s table. Imagine the guest’s level of surprise, satisfaction, and sheer delight when Bob said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but I have your sazerac. I hope it’s to your liking. I have taken the liberty of writing down the ingredients on this index card so you can have them with you in your travels. I hope you enjoy your time here at the Capital City Club. I’m glad I had the opportunity to serve you.’

One of my favorite definitions of listening is from Jim Cathcart. He said listening is wanting to hear. And you see, Bob wanted to hear…and he did. Great service is always about wanting to hear.

Service Lesson Learned:
Surprise…and delight!

To look inside this inspiring book, Customer Love just click here.


Reprinted by permission of Simple Truths (c) 2012. In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent. All rights reserved.

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