Making Quality Standards a Collaborative Game

maxrestaurantHello again! I haven’t written in a while – suffice it to say, productivity cannot be achieved without sound mind, heart, and body. I’ll write more about that theme during the upcoming year, because I’ve decided to make personal health my top priority for a while – and explore the ripple effects.

I spent a lot of time traveling this summer! In May, I spent almost a week in Reykjavik, Iceland. I’m planning to take students there in a study abroad program which will probably start in July 2015. In June, I was sick pretty much the whole month – an experience I don’t ever want to have to repeat. By the beginning of July, I was feeling well enough to travel again. I spent a few days in San Francisco (one of my favorite places on Earth), and then flew out to Hawaii for some much needed, soul-replenishing reconnection with the things in life that are most important to me. Now, I’m in high gear planning for Burning Man, where Morgan and I will be contributing our organizational capacities to “Transformational Learning” day on the playa on Friday, 8/30. I’m looking forward to sharing stories (and pictures!) from there too.

Today’s quality story comes from the Bay Area – Burlingame, to be exact.

For the few days I was in San Francisco, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express south of SFO airport. I was tired, jetlagged, and didn’t have a car – meaning that my only restaurant choice was the place situated in the front parking lot of the hotel. That restaurant was Max’s – a place whose web site does not effectively reflect its unique quality orientation!

Here’s what left an impression with me at Max’s restaurant: they have RULES. 15 rules, I think. These rules are printed on their menu, and some of them are also printed on the napkins (see the picture above). Each of the rules are intended to get the customers to co-create a great service experience with the restaurant staff. For example, the management wants to make sure that the staff asks the customers meaningful questions that help them provide exemplary service. If anyone comes up to you and asks the very vanilla question “Is everything alright?” — Max’s will buy you a drink! Same deal if you walk in by yourself and someone asks “just one?” instead of engaging you in more meaningful dialogue.

I liked this approach for many reasons: 1) it gets the customers involved by raising their AWARENESS of the restaurant’s service quality standards, 2) it focuses their ATTENTION on the service experience, and 3) it makes the service experience a game, played collaboratively between the service staff and the customer!

Can you improve your service quality by adding elements of a collaborative game?

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