It is mostly a waste of time when the manager at a restaurant goes between tables and asks diners: “How is your meal?” I’ll be that they most frequently hear “fine” or something similar. It is a non-question — just something to say rather than a request for a real answer. It interrupts the diner’s meal and I would venture to bet that it pays a little dividend for the restaurants.

Such a lost opportunity!

What if instead, the manager asked: “What is one thing we could do to become better?” or “If you were the manager, what is something you would change?” or even “What was the worst part of your experience today?” These types of questions would force the diners to give more substantive answers and a savvy manager could track (literally or intuitively) the frequency of responses. It would allow them to take action in a way that was meaningful.

Instead of a token public relations sweep through the restaurant, managers would be well served to use the time to truly learn something from those who know them best. Whether of your diners, employees, donors or clients, make it a point to ask real questions, not those which elicit an automatic, generic (non-) response.


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