An article in the Wall Street Journal looks at a new trend in restaurant management: teaching wait staff to recognize diners' behavioral clues and adjust their serving style, and suggestions, accordingly:
"We changed 'suggestive selling' to 'situational selling,' " says Rene Zimmerman, senior director of training and development for Bob Evans Farms Inc., a family-style restaurant and food maker. Instead of offering every breakfast guest one additional item, say biscuits and gravy, waiters are taught to adjust their offer depending upon the guest. For a diner who places a lighter order, like a bagel and fruit, the waiter might suggest a cup of coffee or tea.
Servers also are taught to ask, or suss out, a table's preferred pace. In general, people don't like having the check pushed on them -- but if a group mentions that they have theater tickets, they usually appreciate getting the bill with the dessert.
Excellent, experienced servers have probably been doing these kinds of things intuitively for a long time. And I'm sure they hate it when management tries to get them to stick to a script.
The piece ends with advice to diners on how to get better service, not all of which is very nice. (It is the Wall Street Journal, after all.)
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