It’s around 8 p.m. and I’m hungry. I’m on the way back from the Speaking Consulting Network meeting in Charleston, S.C., and I’m wandering through the DFW airport looking for anything to eat other than shrimp and grits. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the Southern delicacy at all, but I’ve consumed more than my fair share of it while in South Carolina, so I’m looking to actually add some vegetables to my diet.
I sit down at a restaurant in the D Terminal that offers salads, and I start looking over the menu to find that perfect bowl of lettuce. Lo and behold, they have a salad that sounds great … except for the red bell peppers. I’ve made my decision. I’m ordering that salad and a Diet Pepsi.
Waitress: May I take your order?
Me: Yes, I’d like your chicken fiesta salad with ranch dressing. Could you hold the red bell peppers please?
Waitress: You don’t like red bell peppers?
Me: They’re OK. I just don’t want them on my salad tonight.
Waitress: So do you want them on your salad?
Me: No, thanks.
Waitress: But they’re really good.
At this point, I’m thinking this lady must own stock in the local red bell pepper market.
Me: I’m sure they are. I just don’t want them on my salad tonight.
Waitress: OK, but you don’t know what you’re missing.
She says the last sentence as she walks off. Really? I don’t know what I’m missing? Actually I think I do. Are these magical red bell peppers that will give me the same powers that the serpent promised Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’m missing the red bell peppers that I didn’t want on my salad before we had the three-minute conversation.
A few minutes later, she brings the salad with no red bell peppers. She doesn’t mention the red bell peppers again. I enjoy my dinner, pay my bill, and move on.
I thought about the conversation on the flight back to Tulsa. Why was she pushing the red bell peppers? Was she really hearing what I was saying? Why did it take four times for me to convince her that I, the customer, really knew what I wanted?
This week, don’t just tell your customers what you think they need. Ask them the questions and then listen to what they want. When customers are the lifeblood of business, it’s good to put their wishes above your own thoughts.
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