Among many possible things I might enjoy having be part of my epitaph, one day, the label of “loyal customer” would probably be up there in the top ten somewhere.  Not being a very outgoing or assertive shopper, I’ve always paid close attention to how companies treat their customers and have tried to throw business to those places (especially service companies) that bend over backwards to provide a positive and professional experience.

Along these lines, I think I’ve found my latest “customer for life” destination.  This past week, my quest was to locate a restaurant/bar on the Eastside that would be able to accommodate about 20-25 business acquaintances Career Horizons was inviting to a special function.  After checking in with 3-4 fairly well-known establishments in Bellevue, however, it was clear that NONE of them really cared much about our business or was willing to make any special arrangements for our group.  Then, thankfully, we stumbled across Monsoon East.  Have you heard of it?  Or eaten there?  From the outset, they seemed genuinely excited to have us host our function there, and made all kinds of concessions (e.g. offering special food prices, reserving part of the bar area, etc.) to make sure our evening was successful.

What’s more, they treated us like royalty during the evening itself.  The appetizers kept on coming, hot from the kitchen, and both the restaurant manager and bar manager constantly checked in on us — and even “watched our back” in terms of making sure any non-guests didn’t try to jump on our tab!  More than anything, though, what struck me was how much these two individuals (neither of whom was an owner, I believe) took pride in their work.  During an era when many service workers seem to be just going through the motions, in zombie-like fashion, or acting as if good customer service is somehow “beneath” them, these two fine fellows (Gene and Niles, I believe their names were) seemed to truly enjoy their work and were hell-bent on making sure their customers had a terrific experience.

We need more of this attitude in the world, I believe.  We need to recognize that ALL work has inherent nobility to it, and that while people have every right to try to maximize their potential, and move up the ladder, each of us is still intrinsically responsible for giving our best to the jobs we do, every day.  If this idea intrigues you, or you need a “pep talk” in this regard, I’d highly recommend you pick up a copy of Ayn Rand’s classic book The Fountainhead.  Or on a more local level, try reading When Fish Fly, which discusses the customer service transformation that helped make Pike Place Fish Market a world-famous institution.  Both books discuss the concepts of pride and craftsmanship as they relate to the workplace, and I certainly know that I, for one, tend to really take note of the presence (or absence) of such things during my adventures as a consumer.

Heck, I still recall one time years ago when my wife and I were driving over to Spokane and stopped to grab dinner at a McDonalds located in downtown Ellensburg.  The kid working behind the counter that night can’t have been more than 16 or 17 years old, but I still remember my incredible surprise when he said: “I’ll bring your burgers and drinks out to you in just a second, but why don’t I keep the apple pies you ordered here in the oven, where they’ll stay warm until you’re done with your meal?”  If I’d had a job to offer, I would have hired that kid on the spot!

At any rate, just a few thoughts I wanted to share on a rainy November Sunday, since I’m still basking in the glow of the great customer experience we had the other night.  Here’s a link to the Monsoon East site, if anybody wants to check them out based on my recommendation.  Their Vietnamese-inspired menu is not only delicious, but their prices are quite reasonable, as well.  And unless I caught them uncharacteristically “in the zone” one night, you now know what you can expect, in terms of service…