Monday, May 18, 2009

Service Me

Today I was in the land of the West Milford Messenger and I found myself a fairly solid reason to smile. I stopped for lunch in between appointments at the West Milford Diner, a fairly simple and straight forward diner. Plenty of tables, the normal menu, but most importantly, really fantastic service. Honestly, I like the little things when I go out to eat. Something like a person coming over and bringing another glass of water when they see that my glass is empty, instead of coming over and asking if I want more water when they see it... those are nice. Noticing that the napkin that came with the place setting isn't even close to doing the job, and bringing over a few more along with the water, honestly, it's the little things. I could wax poetic about all of the other small touches that made lunch a bright spot today, but I gather you understand my point by now.

Let me back up for just one moment. I like, dare I say love food. And it's not just food, but good food, food done right. Not even, necessarily, culinary masterpieces, but just good tasting, satisfying grub. It's the reason that I frequent places like Waterwheel, Lucky's Deli and Olympic so often. If a restaurant doesn't have good tasting food, the game is over before it's begun; no amount of wonderful service can salvage a horrible meal. When it's good - and even in a diner, it can most definitely be good - this is what brings people back again and again.

Listen, customer service is something that a lot of people pay lip service to. I've worked for Toys R Us and Caldor during high school and college. I've heard it preached at Applebee's and Friday's and any number of other institutions... heck, even Wal-Mart at one time or another. The funny thing is that corporate policy doesn't seem to quite make it through to the front lines. Try getting help, absolute top-notch customer service, from most of the aforementioned chain stores, and you will quickly understand my irritation. Next, find yourself a neighborhood store who has stood the test of time for a number of years, or better yet, decades. The odds are strong that their customer service is strong as well.

Like the rest of you, I would like to hope, I work hard for my money (and simply complain and preach in blog format on my own time). Like the rest of you, I would like to hope, if I am going to be parted with my hard earned dollars, my preference is to feel like it was worth it. Quality of food in a restaurant is a given, but quality of service is a must. Acting as if it is an honor for me to eat the food that you have prepared for me, an honor to be presenting so little payment in return due to its far superior value, is one of the fastest ways to drive me out your door, never to return. Times are tough and people are stressed. I understand that. Treat customers right anyway. Go the extra mile. You'd be surprised how often one of us will return, and how many family members or friends will be in tow. My father once taught me that the greatest thing he has ever earned was his reputation. When he needed to close his bakery years ago, and finally went looking for a new job, a great many of his former customers sprang up, offering him references and helping him make connections. A good name does such a thing. A poor name shutters your doors with no sympathy.

Me, I'll be back at the West Milford Diner, next chance I get.

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