Ola! A Childlike Approach Towards High Quality Service

In one of my recent business trip where I didn’t have much to do in the evening after winding up my day. With no one for company and feeling bored in my hotel room I decided to spend my time in the restaurant and enjoy some beer and the in-house live band.

This place is one of my favorites as the service staff seems to somehow read my mind and provide me with excellent service. It’s not a one off, the service levels were consistent and of high standards.

I thought of spending some time with the Manager and pick his mind to understand what makes his team deliver such high standards all of the time. My idea was to understand if his insights can be used in other companies where I consult.

He asked me to just be around for a while and see for myself how his team and himself used the concept, what I term as OLA! in staying ahead and deliver quick and efficient service which delights their customers. The concept is similar to what infants and kids use to learn, grow and endear themselves to people i.,e Observe, Listen and Ask (OLA!)

He said, his team was highly alert and sensitive to the concept of OLA! The team members would be very observant of the happenings around the restaurant which was almost like a hawk-eyed approach. Ever alert to the movements of guests, facial expression, quizzical looks, waving hands et al. He said that the teams approach was nothing short of a team providing VIP security – always observant and alert. The moment they found that a guest was showing signs of movement, they slowly moved closer to the table, just to encourage the guest to speak up or ask. I saw in over 2 hours of observation that none of the guest had to call out to the waiters at any time – they reached them even before the guests uttered a word.

The other interesting thing about the team was the team was listening all the time to any noise (not snooping 😊) but alert to vocal signals from their guests. Even if it was a little gasp of Oh! or Ah!, they would make themselves available to find out if they could do anything for the guest.

And the last was that they ensured ‘asking’ the guests from time to time (without being intrusive) whether all was good and they were satisfied by the service and food being offered.

The OLA! approach helped them provide fast and efficient service to their guests most of whom like me were repeat visitors.

It’s almost the way a child learns in early life. The 3 skills exhibited by the child is Observe (the environment around), Listen (to the sounds around) and Ask (ask repeatedly and shamelessly until it finds the answer).

I thought that’s the way to go and be child-like in our service to clients no matter the industry. I can assure you it works in building great bonds and long-lasting relationships. Your clients are not buildings and machines after all.


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