Many believe that the word “service” is an ambiguous, overused term. What does “service” really mean? According to Wikipedia, “Service is a set of one time consumable and perishable events.” So how does this translate into the hospitality industry? Simply put it’s the greeting, suggesting, serving, interaction, presentation, pre-bussing and the closure of a transaction. It is all-encompassing and every piece counts.
- 82% of consumers left due to poor customer service
- 73% cited “rude staff” as the primary pain point
- 55% said failure to resolve their problems in a timely manner drove them away
Service is the lifeblood of a restaurant. In today’s economy, service is more important than ever. All restaurants are vying for the consumer to choose their establishment rather than the competitors. It is the single most important tool to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Consumers today DEMAND good service. Good service is not great service; it’s simply what is expected; it’s part of the transaction. Good Service, Bad Service or Great Service is defined solely by the customer’s perspective; however, perception equals reality. Do you remember the last time you had a truly memorable experience because of the great service you received?
On a recent business trip to Chicago a co-worker of mine had the unhappy experience of the airline losing his luggage. For those of you who have ever lost your luggage, you know what a hassle and inconvenience it is. My co-worker stopped for lunch at an upscale restaurant chain just down the street from his hotel. Eating his hamburger at the bar, he told the bartender about how badly his day had gone. When he was ready to pay the bill, the manager of the restaurant approached him, acknowledging his frustrating day and handed my co-worker an envelope. Inside the envelope there was a note expressing their regret to hear about his bad day and hoping his day would improve. They added that they were glad he came into the restaurant, his meal was on them, and included a gift card to use at a future time. WOW!!! Now that’s an example of exceptionally great service! I guarantee they’ve received a tremendous amount of positive association to their brand just due to the pass along of the story from one traveler to another.
How do establishments provide “Great Service” – the type of service consumers yearn for that will keep them coming back and telling their friends? Service like the example above.
Of course, there are the basic steps of service which every server should follow, such as serving the beverage within a specific timeframe, delivering the food, and thanking customers for their patronage, but it goes much further and one word can explain it…. HOSPITALITY.
Hospitality is forging a relationship with each and every guest. Imagine if every time you walked into a restaurant your server developed a relationship with you. Clearly in the example above, the bartender established a strong rapport with my co-worker. Not only did he serve him, but he listened and took additional steps to inform his management. Wouldn’t you want to come back over and over again to a restaurant that treated you like that? One that took the time to connect with you on a deeper level? The end result would not only be a sales increase from repeat business, it would also include growing acquisitions through positive word-of-mouth.
Remember a key point: your people are a direct reflection of your business. Hiring great staff is about finding the right people. You must find someone who has a great attitude, is personable, empathetic and wants to serve. Experience is significant, but not necessarily the most important thing, as attitude cannot be taught. It can only be cultivated where it already exists!
Once the right people are found, you reinforce daily by putting the right tools in place. Empowering your people is not a one time training event, but an ongoing process.
The entire staff must be engaged in recognizing that the customer is their total focal point. Giving that customer a positive experience must be everyone’s goal, and providing incentives from acknowledgement and positive reinforcement to monetary rewards will reinforce the goal of “Hospitality”.
Laura Johnson, Business Development Director, Red Book Solutions