Etiquette Part II- Follow Through

To quote The Fixx:

“Do what they say, say what you mean.

One thing leads to another.

You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long

But then one thing leads to another.

What am I talking about???

Let’s go back to something I learned about 13 years ago.  People don’t get as upset when things go wrong if you communicate well.  I would have nights where I was one of two waiters in a restaurant, I had over 10 tables (most restaurants don’t give waitstaff over 5), and the kitchen was very SLOW.  This is a recipe for disaster. . .usually.

The Reality:  I made more tips on that night than any I can remember.


I fought the flight reflex.  There is nothing more uncomfortable than having people stare at you, knowing exactly what they want. . . food.  Most people in this situation disappear in the side station, (where the drinks and trays are located), until the food is ready and then bring it out, avoiding conflict at all costs.

I stayed in the dining room.  My visibility let everyone know I was there and ready to respond when the kitchen needed me too.  It gave me a lot of time to interact with guests, keep drinks full, apologize for the delay, etc.  Was everyone ecstatic?  Of course not.  The moods ranged from amiable, to indifferent, to annoyed, but, at the end of it all, no one blamed me.  No one punished me financially.  They all voted with their wallet, and I was deemed the winner.

Communication is a pillar of etiquette.

I defined etiquette in a previous post and included the condition that you are acting in a way the customer expects you to act.  With poor communication, you have no way to determine what this is.  The customer’s expectation could be baseless, or it could be based on a previous over the top good or bad experience.  How do you meet the expectation then?

Set it!

Communicating effectively to educate your customer on what steps will take place, what time frame things will get done in,  and when they will hear from you throughout the process is essential.  If you provide the guidelines you control the expectation, and once you do that, you ave no excuse not to meet or exceed them.

So follow through is pivotal.  Set realistic expectations with the customer and then make the milestones happen on time.  If something falls back, call them, and let them know that you “realize you are at a milestone and owe them some information.  I also know your time is valuable and it is of the essence as well.  I don’t like making these calls, but I wanted to be proactive in letting you know I am a day behind.”

When you make promises keep them, and you will find that over time, you may very well get the same loyalty in return from your clients.


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