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Ask, Don't Tell

 

Techniques > Tipping > Articles > Ask, Don't Tell

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

If you want a customer to do something, ask them. Avoid telling them unless this becomes absolutely necessary. This is particularly important on the phone, where body language is not visible.

Discussion

Commanding, even politely, assumes a position of higher status and power. In a restaurant (or any service situation, for that matter), no matter who you are, you are lower status than your customers, who have the ultimate power to eat elsewhere (and tell others that they should not eat at your place). When a person feels themself to be in a higher status position and that they are being challenged for that position, even in a small way, then they will naturally rebel.

Note that much of this happens at a subconscious level. People do not think 'Oh, I am higher status and am being challenged'. They just feel uncomfortable, that there is something wrong with the situation, and they need to assert themselves.

When a person is being asked, then this positions the person asking in a lower status position. The customer in a restaurant will more likely feel comfortable with this and hence will more likely respond positively. This does not mean the person is superior in all ways or at all times. It is simply about the roles that are being played in that place at that time.

A restaurateur reduced no-shows from bookings with a very simple change to what he said when taking the booking. Originally, he said 'Please call if you have to change your plans.' He changed this to the question 'Will you please call if you have to change your plans?' and then (also importantly, added a pause to let the customer say 'Yes'. The result was that no-shows went down from 30% to 10%.

See also

Power

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