In a recent article for Catersource magazine, Anthony Lambatos (Footers Catering) discussed how to avoid being "whelming." He writes:
My wife, April, and I recently went out to dinner and the word we both used to describe our experience was “whelming.” It wasn’t a bad dinner, but there was nothing that stood out or impressed us. The service was fine, the food was good, and the pricing for what we received was fair, but we both felt like there was no reason to go back to that restaurant.
In the comedy movie 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Chastity Church asks, “I know you can be underwhelmed, and you can be overwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?” Although historically from Middle English “whelm” and “overwhelm” were used interchangeably and both meant “to overturn” or “to overpower in thought or feeling,” it wasn’t until people started using a third word, “underwhelmed” for “unimpressed,” that “whelmed” started being used to describe something as average or mediocre.
When demand is high and there is ample business at your door, it can be easy to default into a mode of mediocre.
We can gravitate to a new normal where impressing every customer and exceeding expectations is not necessary to win or stay in business. However, this is where companies differentiate themselves. When things turn and business becomes scarce, the reputation of the “awesome” service providing companies distance themselves from the “average” service providers. Having built a loyal following, they continue to stay relevant and find ways to thrive in a wide variety of economic conditions. Often when this occurs, it’s too late for those average service providers to simply improve their offerings, so they begin to lower prices to win business, which leads to additional stress of shrinking margins, creating a downward spiral within their organization.
How do companies avoid the trap of providing “whelming” experiences for their customers? I find the problem is often rooted in an internal company culture. Too many companies spend most of their time and energy focusing on how to serve the guests and not enough time focusing on how they can serve their own team. It has been proven that when people love their jobs, they are more productive and successful. They learn faster, make fewer mistakes, and make better business decisions. They take pride in what they do and are inclined to provide higher levels of service. In other words, by prioritizing your team first, they will then in turn serve the clients and guests.
Click here to read the rest of the article and to learn Lambatos' tricks to avoid being "whelming."