Service of More Than Expected at Bergdorf’s and Blue Water Grill

July 24th, 2014

Categories: Restaurant, Retail, Service, Value Added

jewels

As a result of a weak and fluctuating economy we increasingly find treasures–people in service positions they might not ordinarily have yet who enhance customers’ experiences exponentially. They perform their jobs magnificently and in good spirit even if what they are doing may be unrelated to their vocations.

Walking a Mile in His Shoes

Bergdorf's. Photo: Wikipedia

Bergdorf’s. Photo: Wikipedia

A colleague and Bergdorf Goodman shopper shared this anecdote. Her salesman asked her for what occasion she was looking for shoes and she told him the Matrix Awards. He knew all about the awards, he said, as he’d seen the full page New York Times adverts about the New York Women in Communications-sponsored annual event.

I’m acquainted with a former magazine editor-turned shoe salesman at Bergdorf’s-turned top marketer for another major luxury retailer so I jumped to the conclusion that this savvy salesman was on hiatus from a post as communications director somewhere or maybe he was a fashion designer or artist in his other life.

Courting his Customers

Blue Water Grill. Photo: venuebook

Blue Water Grill. Photo: venuebook

Seven of us met for lunch at Blue Water Grill. Our waiter, Christos, was the best I can remember having in NYC for so many reasons.

As you arrived he asked if you’d like a drink. He made you feel as though you were at a friend’s home. If you said, “Not now, thanks,” your friend would move on to another subject and ask you again later. Christos’ reaction was similar, yet he wasn’t familiar. [Everyone ordered something to drink eventually.] As he described the restaurant’s raw fish bar, he mentioned that if anyone wanted just a taste, they could order one of any item. He tempted but never pressured us. We were comfortable. I was cheering inside.

My guess was that Christos had been to umpteen restaurants where he disliked the rolling eyes and impatient attitude of wait staff that tries to cajole and flatter customers to order food and drink that they don’t want. He was always ready to describe, suggest and serve.

Before we arrived, Elaine Siegel, who organized the lunch, had asked Christos for a separate bar bill. He raised the bar. At the end of lunch he handed each of us our bill and each was accurate as to food, drinks, coffee, and appetizers. Remember: We were seven. I can’t count the times I’ve been discouraged to request checks for three credit cards. And he hadn’t written a single order. Not only that, he took the orders at random, when he sensed the guest was ready, not in the order in which they were seated. What a memory!

Christos’ other life: he’s a writer and film director which he admitted only after we pressed him.

Have you basked in such intelligent service?

Cat basking in the sun

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10 Responses to “Service of More Than Expected at Bergdorf’s and Blue Water Grill”

  1. Rose Gilbert Said:

    I relish Christos’ reaction when you show him your post!
    Well deserved praise…and didn’t he raise our pleasure quotient significantly!
    R

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Rose,

    I’ll say! Some eat or drink more than others and often those who partake like pigeons pay far more than they should. Christos’ meticulous work meant we each paid the right amount–what a thing! I recall being at such a gathering years ago with a touchy stomach and paying $40 + for my share of the bill and all I had was a side salad.

  3. EAM Said:

    Jeanne,
    I recently went shopping in NJ (y’know the shopping capital of the Northeast). I initially was looking for someone to help me. After a few minutes, the sales person came over, and I told her that I had specific requests for certain kinds of breathable fabric for summer. She helped me out and when I was ready to check out and wanted an item that they were out of stock on, they phoned to all the NJ stores and had it sent out. They had an endless line and a chaotic day filled with shoppers seeking out sales. I told the ladies that I wanted to go bring them some drinks and came back with iced teas and followed up with the District Manager to let her know that they really went above and beyond for me. Incidentally, I saved about $250 that day.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    I love stories like this.

    You deserve “best customer of the year” for bringning them drinks and recognizing their efforts!

    Kudos to the sales staff–bet you’ll be back next time you need something.

  5. JPM Said:

    You make a darn good point, but I still prefer professional service.

    I’m reminded of a dinner almost twenty years ago at one of New York’s then leading and most expensive restaurants. It has since closed, but our service was sufficiently exceptional throughout an excellent meal that I had the gall to ask our waiter whether he was a professional. He was and further told us that he was earning enough from tips that he had no interest in becoming more than a waiter. He didn’t want the headaches which come with a headwaiter’s or restaurant manager’s job. I commended him for his lack of ambition. Wish more men were like him in the business.

    Speaking of professional service, anybody notice a change in the quality of their medical service? On a routine doctor’s visit this week, I got twenty minutes of a nurse’s time and seven of the doctor’s. (Last year, I got twenty minutes with the doctor and fifteen minutes with his nurse.) He went by so fast that I’m not sure what I did or did not tell him, and there is already a mix-up about a prescription. Hurray for Obama Care!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    JPM,

    For all I know Christos has been a waiter since he was in high school or perhaps as of last month: Regardless, he could not have been more professional. Rose Gilbert agreed. She made the first comment and was part of the group of seven. She travels the world, eating at all the best places.

    I too admire professional waiters and don’t mean to disparage them. I can’t tell the background and vocation of those who have treated me poorly at pricey places or who have acted unctious, uncaring, arrogant or annoying.

    As for medical service, I have nothing to compare in the world of orthopedics but when I broke my foot a few years ago, I saw the doctor some three minutes a visit and nurse assistants, an x-ray tech person and receptionists the rest of the time. I can’t blame President Obama–I blame the insurance industry that won’t pay for more of a doctor’s time than this. Bet hedge fund types invite doctors to visit their offices as they have sufficient wealth to pay full freight with trimmings. For this “too big” or “too rich” to fail attitude that creates healthcare as uneven as the growing gap in income between rich and poor due to deletion of the middle class, I blame passivity and voters who have endorsed candidates who have seen the cliff coming and do nothing about it–or citizens who have given up and don’t vote.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    Generally telephone service for any sales or consumer matter is something fair to abysmal. However if service is polite and helpful I make a point of acknowledging it, generally by asking to speak with an employee’s supervisor.

    It is astonishing how unexpected and yet how appreciated positive feedback is. I think it is more important than ever to make note of good service, since it so scarce. Many people in our turbulent economy are employed in unexpected positions, and not ones in which they have worked for many years. However, it makes much more sense to do what you are doing well and professionally then with disdain or resentment. It also would seem the only way for our economy to recover.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    Your thoughtful response triggered a few thoughts. The first is that I fear that people–with the exception of you and EAM who commented above–don’t take the time to praise others because they feel they don’t have the time and that doing so will do THEM little if any good.

    Like you I also appreciate and admire people who do their jobs with good spirit, regardless of what it is. It’s not the customer’s fault that you would rather be writing the Great American Novel and are serving coffee at Starbucks instead.

    I agree with part of your comment that inspired service will help the economy because folks may be inspired to spend dwindling discretionary income on experiences they feel are worth their money. Surly, arrogant, inefficient behavior won’t open wallets. However, what about all those who might wish to make a living doing these jobs that these inspired employees are doing so magnificently while waiting for an improved economy to go back to what they can also do well? We have given to other countries so many of the jobs that Americans once performed. God only knows how we will fill this gap or reverse the trend. We can’t blame all the job shortages on technology.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Yes. Frequently, but then I smile a lot.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    If someone doesn’t like his/her job and doesn’t want to be there he/she often forgets that a customer is paying for their time/service. It isn’t the customer’s fault that the manager may be angry, dumb or lazy or that the pay is poor. All the smiles a customer can muster won’t turn things around.

    Now that Christos has set the bar of what’s possible when a bunch of people meet, I feel sorry for the subsequent waiters we encounter.

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