I was at NAPS (National Association of Personnel Services) in San Antonio this past week and had a great time. Of course, I went to see many speakers and left with many “walk away” ideas (those in which justify your attendance), but one of the best was from my waiter at Bohanan’s restaurant.

Sure we’ve all been to nice restaurants and received high caliber service, and in this they were no different, but it is what he said to my party upon our arrival that struck me. No we received no menus; he took no order for drinks and he certainly didn’t ask us where we were visiting from, but instead he asked if we had any further plans (seeing a show, etc.) beyond our dinner that would require him to augment his service and that would impact the timeline for service.

Now this may seem mundane to some, but what many people in the service business spend so much time on these days is managing expectations where what he was doing was setting expectations. So by getting us to voice our real need he better understood how to work with us and to better serve us and therefore pre-empted the need to “manage” us down the road.

Of course managing expectations won’t go away and it’s certainly something that all service providers need to be able to do, but the more adept you are at understanding your customers needs before the service process begins the less managing of the process you’ll do down the road.

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