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Want to Stand Out? Be Human.

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I’d promised my pastor husband I would make reservations for our 14-person church staff and leadership team dinner scheduled for the following Friday, but hadn’t gotten to that task yet. It was an unusually warm December day in Minnesota, so while our five-year-old daughter climbed around on a playground obstacle course, I hopped on OpenTable to see about reservations at our hoped-for restaurant, Buca di Beppo. Unfortunately, I was too late; for such a large group, there was no hope of getting a reservation on such short notice. After I texted my husband the disappointing news, I decided to take a rare action for a millennial—make a phone call. I told my hubby, “Hang tight. Let me call Buca and see if they can do anything.”

The phone rang, and Matt answered with a peppy “Hello, how can I help?” I explained the situation and told him I was calling to see if the app was wrong and if some tables were still available for our large group. Matt asked to put me on hold, which, at first, irritated me a bit. He must have heard it in my voice because he quickly explained, “I have to run from my office to the host station up front. Hang tight!” When he picked up the line again just a minute later and started tapping buttons, he was muttering to himself, “I can move them here, and them there, and that table here … .” And then the words I’d hoped to hear, “And …. Yep! Got you in. No problem.”

I was truly in shock. “What? Oh wow! Really? It’s a Christmas miracle!” I exclaimed, with laughter in my voice.

He said, “Well, sure! The system online is always going to play it safe. But you call here and talk to a human, and we’ll always do our best to get you in.”

Was what Matt did all that remarkable? Maybe, maybe not. Some might even say, Well, he was just doing his job; he should do his best to get in every person who calls for a reservation. Did he go above and beyond? Possibly, since other staff might’ve just told me, sorry, we’re booked. In essence, though, what he did do was … he was human.

Some might even say, Well, he was just doing his job; he should do his best to get in every person who calls for a reservation. Did he go above and beyond? Possibly, since other staff might’ve just told me, sorry, we’re booked. In essence, though, what he did do was … he was human. In a world where almost everything can be done online, and technology continues to expand our horizons, there’s just something to be said about the genuine joy of talking to a human. A human being who wants to help, do his or her job well, and …  be outstanding! How does one become outstanding? By asking accountable questions (we call them QBQs), “What can I do to serve?” “How can I go above and beyond?” “What action can I take to bring joy to this person right now?” Matt represents a restaurant chain claiming to be “the home of celebrations.” Well, we were surely celebrating that day after one employee chose to take a small action to delight one customer on a beautiful December day.

It doesn’t take much to be outstanding.