Teachable Moments

Teachable moments hold great value to our efforts to move customer service forward.

I checked in with Sarah, the administrator I am working with in New Hampshire. I wanted to know how things were going since my training sessions there.

She sounded alarmed at first.

“I’m afraid we’re backsliding,” she said.

It turns out there had been an incident in the dining room.

A young server took one look at the soup of the day, a cream-based soup, recoiled, and blurted out loud something along the lines of: “Yuck! I wouldn’t eat that!”

Of course, when residents hear words like these it instantly lowers their confidence in the food that they are about to be served. And we cover that in Kind Dining training.

Fortunately, Dave, their administrator in training happened to be close by, heard the unchecked outburst, and swiftly moved to rectify it.

The problem was minor. The cream in the soup had gotten a little too hot and begun to separate. Simply stirring the soup and garnishing it effectively solved the server’s problem with its appearance.

Sarah was upset that the Kind Dining lesson had not sunk in with the server.

I told Sarah I wasn’t surprised. Teenagers are unlikely to get it the first time. They need to be reinforced constantly.

For me, the story illustrates the importance of having an experienced problem-solver onsite at every meal. If the administrator hadn’t been nearby, this situation could have been a lot more damaging.

Secondly, it tells me that coaching Kind Dining behavior doesn’t end when the training sessions are complete and the workbook is finished. There must be consistent follow-up coaching to make sure that the lessons sink in.

Kind Dining training is so much more than the memorization of items at a proper place setting. It goes much deeper, to changing attitudes, perspectives and habits in order to become a customer service professional.

And unfortunately, there will be times when the process takes one step back before moving two steps forward. These changes aren’t easy!

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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