Slower Service Might Be Better

We all seem to have a need for speed.  “Don’t fax or email it, text it…it’s faster.”  “Who can wait for overnight?” “A fifteen minute wait? We go to another restaurant!” “Buy a Disney FastTrac ticket and skip the wait…after all, we are on vacation.”  But, there might be times when slower service is better service?

Starbucks made headlines for closing all their stores for four hours to do training. They smartly selected their slowest business hours—late afternoon.  Employees told us that a part of their training was how to slow down.  Some coffee baristas had been rushing the coffee ordering process to the point they were losing the relatively laid-back ambiance that had made them successful.  Customers want to escape the frenetic and impersonal to get a latte delivered with calm and chitchat.

Catherine Davis, owner of the Davis Financial & Insurance Group in Louisville, Colorado, found that her Allstate agents and administrative staff had gotten so efficient at processing paperwork that they were not taking the time to build rapport with clients.  To remind them to slow down, she placed turtle signs everywhere.  “I chose the turtle because everyone remembers who won the race in the childhood story of the tortoise and hare,” she reported.  Her staff meetings included “turtle talk”—idea-generation about ways to maintain efficiency while ramping up ways to demonstrate the staff had the patience and focus to make each client feel special.  Might your service improvements make your customers happier if you serve slower?

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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