By: Mike Provost
Back in college, I had a friend who was a brilliant mathematician, but who had a bit of a quirk when it came to spoken language. For whatever reason, his vocabulary was rife with mistakenly used words and butchered expressions. He was always mixing just the wrong word (but a close-sounding one) into his sentences, often with unintentionally humorous results for those listening closely enough.
As a group of new friends, we first became aware of this eccentricity at a college get-together. Based on the situation, we attributed his bizarre word choices to the type and amount of beverages he had been consuming. (If my parents are reading this… we were all studying quantum theory at the library, and he was diet soda intolerant or something…)
It was unfortunate for him, but an unending source of good-natured amusement for the rest of us, along with the occasional break in conversation for “Wait… what did you just say?”
Some of the better (or worse) verbal mashups that I can remember were his references to having a “headegg” (headache), being “underpressed” (unimpressed), and the “pullet surprise” (Pulitzer Prize) for journalism. We once heard him call someone a “freaking idiom” (idiot), which I’m sure both angered and confused the recipient. And one of our all-time favorites was his referral to getting something done “in a New York midget” (minute). I don’t even know where to begin with that one.
I should point out that English is his native language, and he could speak two others. He might have done the same thing in the other languages too, for all I know.
He was initially unaware that he was making a mistake. While we generally found these mix-ups amusing, as his friends, we were genuinely concerned for him. He was otherwise a really smart guy. So, did he have an undiagnosed hearing impairment? Some odd, very specific form of aphasia? He insisted it was simply inattention to detail when he was listening to other people talk. As he put it, he concentrated on overall context of what someone was saying, rather than the wording, so he probably learned some of the expressions wrong.
Whatever the real cause, it’s an interesting point, especially in an industry like Hospitality. How often do we tailor our service offerings based on what we assume the customer wants, (or worse, what we assume someone else means when they tell us what the customer wants). Doing that can easily lead to providing a product or service that may technically work (or not), but isn’t quite right. Or, as Maxwell Smart used to say “Missed it by….that much!”
At MICROS, this data-gathering question is at the forefront during the development process for OPERA 9, the next generation of our OPERA Enterprise Solution. We’re trying to take a new look at the current software requirements, and gather as much input as possible from actual users as well as our internal regional experts and external partners.
This paying attention to the details is critical to get the proper information and avoid making mistakes which can be at least embarrassing, and at worst costly and downright wrong. We utilize passive learning methods, (by watching usage, support cases, and industry trends), and also active data-gathering by going out and directly seeking information, suggestions, likes and dislikes from those using our existing products, and from those who use other industry solutions.
Thinking about my friend from college, I realized that we hadn’t spoken in years, so I reached out to him via email to say hello. In his response, he mentioned that he had been out with the flu recently… “but I’m doing much batter now.”
Oh good. Wait… what?
Find out more about what MICROS can do for you! For more information contact us at email@example.com Phone: 866.287.4736 (US and Canada)