The “Point of Impact” & Team Decisions



It’s a busy Saturday night and a well-dressed young couple approaches the host stand. The young man provides his name, party of two. The hostess reviews a list and looks up disappointingly, and says, “sorry, I’m afraid we don’t have a reservation. ” And the young man responds, “but I even called to confirm today”.  And she says, “well, it’s not here and we’re totally booked tonight.” The young man looks at his date, who’s looking down at her shoes.

The hostess looks back at the dining room. A mix of laughter, conversation and music fills the room. Bottles of wine being opened, plates of beautiful food being served and the playful glances of the comfortably seated darting back and forth.

Behind the young couple a party of five arrives. “I was just able to get us in,” says a well-dressed woman. “This food is amazing!”

“Is there anything you can do,” says the young the man. The hostess returns to her screen. More guests arrive behind the party of five.  She looks up and around, hoping to make eye contact with the manager.

Is this situation salvageable?

  • Send the young couple to the bar and let them fend for themeselves?
  • Give away somebody else’s table?
  • Ask them to wait an hour?
  • Give them a gift certificate and ask them to come back another time?
  • Turn the young couple away?

In this scenario, the core human need this young couple is after is Love & Connection. It’s been put on hold because the level one need, certainty (being seated upon arrival) is now uncertainty.

Back to our hostess. She’s on her own. The bottle neck behind the young couple builds. The young lady looks up at her date, “it’s ok, we can go somewhere else.”

The solution to the problem is inside the toolbox of our core human needs. Uncertainty is rapidly creating a negative domino effect for not only the young couple, but the hostess and arriving guests. To the hostess, this young couple, in princple, is significant. In such light, there is only one option:

“No, ” says the hostess. “We’re going to get you a table. Can you please give me just a few minutes while I get these guests seated?”

The young man smiles. His date reaches for his hand and they step aside. The hostess quickly gets the party of five seated, along with the other waiting parties. Through these crucial moments, the hostess makes assuring eye contact with the waiting couple.

Being able to make a decision on her own allows the hostess to retain control of the situation. In spite of the situation, she’s operating on solid ground. She understands her guest’s core human needs in a way that gives her an instinctual response to unpredictable situations.

As a result, certainty is immediately re-established and everybody there at the host stand felt it immediately. She gets the bottleneck under control, buys herself time to reassess the situation in the dining room, and make sure our young couple experiences the Love & Connection they’re seeking.

The moment a guest expectation is either met or not met is the Point of Impact. The outcome results in a loss or a gain of business, reputation and revenue. It’s a defining moment.

What happens next was decided during the incubation period of the restaurant’s design, how the hostess was hired, style of training, and ongoing daily operations. Now we’re on the inside – where we need to be to leverage core human needs for our team.

If we wish to convey human needs to our guests, our team members must experience them as well.

The unifier, what guides ownership, management and all team members, is a central purpose, or promise, that aligns with the core humans needs of our guests. We can use the same list of core human needs to guide the internal culture of the restaurant. All team members can and should be united by the very same principals for creating great customer experiences.

Let’s looks at how this maps out starting with internal operations, and striving towards the peak of the guest journey:

Where Team Certainty meets Guest Certainty is where the two experiences intersect. One based in preparation and training, the other based in anticipation and experience. The goal is to obtain and maintain mutual harmony: a perfect handshake of ability with expectation.

Next: Part 5 of 6 – What does your naked walk-through reveal?