Who among us hasn’t had an unpleasant dining experience thanks to a rude waiter, lousy food, and poor service? From the phone to the table, customer service is defined by anticipating customer demands, and these days, customers demand more; specifically in the form of service, and the service begins as soon as the guest walks through the door. The old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” still holds true today, especially in the hospitality industry, and lasting guest impression is just as important.
“Customer service is all about the guest and anticipating and meeting their needs,” said Shelly Dodson, Mon Ami Gabi assistant general manager; at the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. “Managers need to convey to their staff that we’re here to create a positive experience for our guests. When people dine out, it’s an event. They want a fun, exciting and enjoyable experience and it’s our job to make sure that happens.”
Providing exemplary service is not complicated, but it is a priority and every opportunity must be taken to ensure guest satisfaction if the business hopes to survive in a challenging, complex and competitive foodservice industry. It is the responsibility of both management and staff to understand the difference between good service and exceptional service. Almost anyone can offer good service, but only the best can offer exceptional service. Exceptional service is anticipating and exceeding guest expectations. Creating a unique and exceptional level of unmatched customer service will provide an edge over the competition. Competition is good as long as the company can stay one step ahead of its competitors.
“If we don’t take care of our customers, our competition will,” said Annie Kang-Drachen, director of sales and marketing for the Department of Food and Beverage Management at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality Management. “There is good and bad customer service, and bad customer service stems from inattentiveness, ignorance and ineptitude that will ultimately result in lost business and profit. I believe that bad customer service exceptional from the top key personnel who lead by example and instill pride in every employee who comes into contact with customers Exceptional customer service is what we all seek because that is the foundation of good business, and our customers expect it they expect, which is evident from the fact that you don’t hear about positive customer service experiences, but you definitely hear about the bad ones.”
While some businesses focus on increasing sales by adding new menu items, redecorating the place, outfitting the staff in modern uniforms, and offering daily specials often, the little things that keep customers coming back get ignored. Attention to detail is crucial. Customer service is the foundation of a successful business and waiters are the lifeblood of that business. If the service is sacrificed for the sale; That is a recipe for disaster. No matter how delicious the food or how inviting the atmosphere, if the service suffers, so will the business.
“People spend money when and where they feel good,” Walt Disney said, and this holds true for any market segment.
“The customer service we provide is second to none,” said Reina Herschdofer, executive director of pavilion sales and operations at Rio and Harrah’s Las Vegas. “We get to know the customer and really learn what is most important to them. Every customer has different needs and priorities. If you know what their key to success is, you can exceed their expectations.”
“You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”
Since service personnel are an integral part of the operation, you need to dress for success, and that starts with a smile. Service with a smile is one of the most important tools of the trade. Never underestimate the power of a smile. There is nothing more welcoming or contagious; It costs nothing and requires little effort. No matter the nationality or language of the guest, everyone understands a smile. “I never got tired of saying that a smile is worth a thousand words,” Dodson said.
As part of their training, it is imperative that service personnel know the menu, not just in terms of the offerings but more importantly in the preparation, especially in today’s health conscious society. Additionally, building rapport with the guest, making eye contact, adding a personal touch by having servers introduce themselves, and displaying the right body language may seem inconsequential, but they are important service qualities and contribute to a positive dining experience. The staff must treat their clients in the same way that they would like to be treated to their families or to themselves. Both are the voice and face of the business. Your attitude and appearance is a reflection of that restaurant’s culture and its success and growth depends on a well-trained, enthusiastic and accommodating staff with a strong work ethic; committed to taking care of the client with decorum and good knowledge of the product. Strong leadership also plays a key role. Staff and management working towards a common goal will result in a positive dining experience for the guests and those guests will reward the staff with a higher tip and the restaurant will reap the benefits. It is a win-win situation.
Employee empowerment is a highly effective ingredient in customer service training.
“The customer is always right” is a popular service industry slogan; even if the client is wrong. With the diversity of diners, their high expectations and ever-changing demands, it’s impossible to please everyone, especially in today’s fast-paced world where immediate gratification is expected. Everyone in the business has experienced those cranky customers who seem to enjoy complaining about every aspect of their food. Managers should encourage their employees to be proactive in dealing with a customer problem or complaint without the need for their constant approval. Before the problem escalates, employees must act on the conviction that they are truly committed to working on an immediate solution. Employee empowerment is a highly effective ingredient in customer service training, not only for the guest, but the staff will feel good knowing that management has faith and confidence in their decision-making abilities. If the owners and managers recognize and reward their staff for good service, the staff will take good care of their customers. This level of service will ultimately generate repeat business and the satisfaction of that guest will guarantee future customers.
“It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one,” says Norman Scarborough, an assistant professor of economics and business administration at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina.
While it is always profitable to gain new customers, even more lucrative is a repeat customer. More often than not, it’s easier to please a repeat customer because you’ve already met their expectations by establishing a level of loyalty and trust and providing consistency in product and service. “A repeat customer is a sense of accomplishment,” said Sandy Acenas, Harley-Davidson Café assistant general manager. “They are the testimony of a job well done and your best form of publicity.” In this customer-driven industry, word-of-mouth referrals from a satisfied customer are the least expensive but most effective type of advertising. A repeat customer appreciates being recognized; It makes them feel important and addressing them by name, knowing what they want to eat and drink before they order, and anticipating their questions before they ask will enhance the guest’s dining experience and build customer loyalty.
“Do what you do so well they’ll want to see it again and bring their friends.” disney waltz
I asked Cory Harwell, Director of Restaurants at the New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas, to define his idea of customer service. “My idea of customer service? Well I guess you could be predictable and say you’re exceeding guest expectations or being proactive or any of those very normal responses. My actual answer though is simple. This is our home The people who work here are our family. The people who visit us are our friends. We will show them a great time and they will always remember us. I believe that exceptional customer service is treating people the way you would if come to your house.. We act a certain way when we have guests in our houses. We are clean, everything is in its place. We meet them at the door. We hang their coats and offer them a drink. We are always aware that they are having a good time When we are able to translate this into our professional settings, we stand out. It may seem simple, but it really is. It comes naturally. We do it all the time at home. It’s at work where we complicate things. .”
A customer is an investment. The more that investment is encouraged and nurtured, the greater the return on that investment. Here is a great “tip”, the customer need to know that you appreciate them and that they add value to your business. If you listen to them, you will learn from them. There is no room for complacency in this people-pleasing industry. Complacency is the difference between success and failure. Customers are the “bread and butter” of a restaurant and exceptional customer service is the key to any successful business.