Home > Ideas, Sales Techniques > Johnny is a good man!

Johnny is a good man!

It’s Saturday night and we were meeting with friends at Kovalam’s famous Hawa Beach (3rd Beach). The plan was to enjoy a seafood meal at one of the beachfront shacks that line the length of this popular tourist destination.

We walked along the tiled walkway that separates the restaurants from the beach, to check the sights and the available seafood. The walk had made us thirsty and a chilled beverage was the need of the hour. We had made a short-list of the restaurants to choose from after checking the stuff on display. A restaurant that wasn’t crowded got our vote – Well, most shacks had a handful of diners because this is the fag end of the tourist season, with the weather getting hotter each day in Kerala.

The Service Staff who ushered us to our seats had a warm smile and made us feel welcome. All of us noticed it, but it was my wife who captured the essence of the experience while we walked back to the car after 2-3 happy hours of chatting, drinking and gourmandising:

“One doesn’t need a degree in Hotel Management to do a great service job. Till what Class you think that guy has studied – not even High School, I guess. But, just look at the way he remembered to do and say the right things at the right time. Fantastic! He made our visit to the place worth remembering.”

How does one teach Service Staff such things?

I’ve been to so many fine-dining restaurants and received such indifferent service. The staff usually treat visitors with such disdain. They somehow fail to think long – term or  from the customer’s point-of-view. They are busy doing a job.

So, what did Johnny do that made us feel different? No, this isn’t Johnny as in “Johnny-come-lately” or “Some Johnny”; that is his name! Mr.Johnny is special.

He wasn’t wearing a starched uniform or speaking in a clipped accent, but most wait staff at Kovalam know a smattering of English thanks to the interactions with 1000s of foreign tourists. He didn’t have slicked-back hair and his grooming was ordinary. But, all that just didn’t matter. He overwhelmed us with Care!

He suggested the best fish and the preparations that would suit our palate. When the food arrived he placed the food ordered at the right places, having remembered who had ordered what. Even when he was far from our table I noticed him glancing our way to check whether the glasses had beverages in them. He was not only keeping us happy but ensuring that the restaurant got more business. It was smart thinking!

While we ate the food Johnny stopped by to refill the plates and then asked the ladies whether the preparations had come out right – “How does it taste, Madam? Is everything okay?”

Post the meal his question was “Did you enjoy the meal?”

And after we settled the check and rose to leave he asked “Next time you aren’t going anywhere else? Come straight to our place and we will ensure that you have a good time.” Bingo!

It was a clever thing to say, but it also meant that he had heard us discuss the other restaurants on the beach. My wife and I had been telling our friends, who are from out-of-town, that we come here often and the other shacks serve good food too. He wasn’t lurking to gather juicy titbits from our conversation, just that when he visited our table the relevant bits of our exchanges stayed in his head to be used at the opportune moment. It is a useful skill.

Isn’t it plain common sense? I mean …  Customer Service:

–          Receive the customer with a smile

–          Help them make the choices

–          Suggest without sounding opportunistic

–          Be around to help

–          Sense the mood and the need

–          Keep the interaction going without intruding

–          Check whether the customer is happy

–          Be there to help throughout

–          Confirm that everything went well

–          Sign off in style

–          Tell the customer that you look forward to seeing them again

Johnny did all that with such style and he had not been taught any of it. He just picked it up along the way. He might just blink if one were to ask him about CRM, CLM and CSAT.

But he had what is took …. Service Attitude. The books tell you everything you wish to know on the subject but ultimately service is about sensing, feeling and doing.

The bill was not a small one but we were beaming as we walked away!

Johnny proved once again that ….. Good Customer Service makes great Business Sense!


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  1. April 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Johnny is the man Jay!!

    • JayadevM
      May 1, 2013 at 4:19 am

      Absolutely! 🙂

  2. May 1, 2013 at 12:45 am

    True service comes from the heart, being passionate about what you do is the key, I guess

    • JayadevM
      May 1, 2013 at 4:19 am

      True, Bindu. It is indeed that way.

      Empathy and understanding have big roles to play in this game.

  3. May 1, 2013 at 4:19 am

    Yes, Service really comes with an attitude to “service” the customer, with what he typically wants. And in India atleast, all that is required is some simple decent service from the heart. And it is so difficult to find that we are overjoyed when we get one.

    Keep it up Jay, you really know how to make us part of your party that day at the beach !
    By the by, what is the name of the shack ?

    • JayadevM
      May 1, 2013 at 4:54 am

      Thanks a lot, Shivaram. Your support means a lot to me.

      By the way, that picture, which I unearthed from the internet, is of the place we visited … Malabar Cafe.
      Try it when you visit Kovalam.

      Shacks in Kovalam have interesting names – Beatles, NASA, Santana, Cafe Garcia, Palm Beach

      You are right about service – hard to find, yet so easy to deliver if the person has the right attitude.

  4. May 1, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Jayadev, i loved how the story opened, strolling down the beach on a Saturday night, pulling to a satisfying end.

    Jhonny’s is a humbling story, perfectly fit to be taught in the highest citadels of management schools. It extends beyond the limited scope of hospitality.

    • JayadevM
      May 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      You said it, Umashankar.

      Such rays of brilliance turn up at the most unusual places …. and is totally missing where you wish to find it.

      Thank you for your kind words.

  5. May 1, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Nice read indeed………….


    • JayadevM
      May 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Debopam

      Thank you for the visit. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  6. Raji Sumanth
    May 1, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Bingo J! Johnny is not just someone who’s learnt the trick of the trade along the way, he has learnt to do it without being obsequious about it. I’m sure I seek out his shack if I’m in Kovalam…if he can rustle up some vegetarian for me!

    • JayadevM
      May 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Raji,

      Thank you for stopping by – Yes, this man does it in style.

      And I am sure he can satisfy your veggie palate too. Malabar Cafe’ is the place to head for.


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