Archive for May 3rd, 2012

Overheard: Listening in on a barmaid’s conversation

So I’m having a little get-together on Friday night, a combined birthday/Cinco de Mayo celebration. That might mean a lot more to you if you lived in Phoenix (or other areas of the Southwest with large Mexican-American populations). I chose, of course, my favorite Irish pub (hey, I’m of Italian, Mexican, AND Irish descent) for the party.

The last few times I made reservations for events like this, I overbooked the restaurant by about double. This time, I went conservative, making the reservation for 12. This morning, the count was up to 21. So I called the restaurant back to change the number. The gal who answered was friendly enough, but immediately asked me if I could hold on. I guess there’s no hold button, though, as the next thing I heard was, “Hi, what can I get you, hon?”

“I’d like a Jameson, please,” came the quick reply.

Then came the upsell: “Would you like to make that a double for just $3 more?”

“Sure, that’ll work.”

Simple as that. If you’ve ever wondered why the guy at the Burgerland Express drive-through always asks if you want to giaganticize your order, there’s your answer. People say yes, when asked.

Then the bartender handed the phone over to a coworker so she could focus on fixing the gentleman’s drink. When I explained my situation, the guy told me they were pretty booked for Friday night so they had room for my larger party, but they would be at nearby tables instead of all together at one large table. Good enough for me. Latecomers will sit nearby.

So there are three primary lessons to take from this little phone call. One is an etiquette lesson; one is a marketing lesson; one is a customer service lesson.

ETIQUETTE: Watch what you say when you’ve got someone on hold without a hold button. In this instance, it was nothing offensive, but it could have been. And in that case, this would have been an entirely different post! Think about all the “hot mike” faux pas the media loves to report and you’ll get the idea.

MARKETING: Have at least a two levels for your offering, and when the customer orders the first one, ask if they’d be interested in the larger purchase. How can an author do this? For one thing, by bundling your books, workbooks, audiobooks, and eBooks.

“Buy one and get the second half-off.”

“Buy the book; get the workbook for $4.99.”

“Buy two books and get a free audiobook.”

CUSTOMER SERVICE: Put the customer first. The folks at the bar did this twice. Once, when the bartender handed me (the person on the phone) off so she could focus on the person standing in front of her. The face-to-face customer should always come first, in my book! The second time, when the guy offered me the nearby-table alternative in the positive. He didn’t say, “No, but…” He started with, “They’d have to be at nearby tables … but we can do it.”

Keep your eyes and ears open – you never know where the marketing lessons will come from!



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