Comforting Customer Service in NYC

When I was in New York City for Pfizer's First Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogger Summit, one of the things I wanted to do was to eat at a diner!

Those diners play an important role in so many movies and television shows, a visit to one was on my must-do list. Sadly, a Google search is revealing that many of them have succumbed to the economy. In New York, as elsewhere, the diner is dying - torn down and replaced by other, more useful or modern buildings.

It was with great joy and happy feet (all that walking on arthritic feet!), that the concierge at our hotel informed us that The Comfort Diner was only a few blocks away. It was mid-morning and the place was packed. I happily led the way to the stools at the counter, where my watery reflection refracted back to a time when it would be a treat to go to town and order a milkshake or a Boston cream pie from a similar diner.

It didn't take us long to place our order for a #5 with Maria, the friendly and efficient waitress who clearly loved her job.

I confirmed it with her the next day, when we went back for an encore. This time Gerald served us, and because it was a bit slower, we were able to have a bit of a chat.

customer service auntie stress
The Comfort Diner - Maria and Gerald

Both Maria and Gerald enjoy their jobs. Listening and watching them interact with what I assume to be the regulars, demonstrated that these were good people, working in a good place. The pace was quick - as is typical in New York City. Yet, watching Maria and Gerald work was like watching a carefully orchestrated dance - they knew their parts well and were able to execute them with smiles.

Lessons for business

  1. Train your people well. 
  2. Hire people who like people, especially if they are going to be in the front lines.
  3. Some people are naturally adept at handling the stress of a busy place of business. Others need training. If so, provide them with skills so that they can extinguish the flow of stress hormones while they work. This will enable them to perform well and act rather than react.

All too often, people wait to deal with their stress until they get home, the weekend or the vacation. In the meantime, stress hormones continue to flow, cortisol accumulates and it takes less and less to trigger the stress response. This affects health, wellness, relationships and performance. Stress is like an octopus - its tentacles reach into all aspects of life.

Stress can be undressed anytime, anywhere, when you learn some effective techniques that change the signals that are sent from the heart to the brain. Learn to activate positive feelings and not just think them, enhances performance, increases intuition and improves communication.

Who is ready for a serving of that?

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