I love to serve my friends and my family. I’m especially happy when we gather because it gives me the opportunity to watch their smiles, listen to their giggles or rambunctious laughter and watch them heartily eat good food. I’m a foodie. I’m moody with it but I love good food and love sharing good food with great friends. Even though we usually gather in groups, last week I dined one on one with 2 very special friends on 2 different days at the same restaurant. I must say, I not only left the restaurant on both occasions a more enriched woman as a result of the time spent with my friends but I also walked away tremendously satisfied with the quality, presentation and flavor of our meal and with the excellent service provided in each dining experience. This was indeed a rare occurrence for me as it’s usually one or the other; either the food is good or the service is.
When it comes to restaurants, I think Wolfgang Puck summed it up well when he said “A lot of restaurants serve good food but they don’t have very good service.” In my dining experience, most restaurants consistently provide average food accompanied by average service but are unable to consistently provide both good food and good service. I was truly impressed that my dining experiences at this restaurant almost mirrored each other. A part of the reason I was impressed is because our lunch servers were different staff members than our dinner servers but it was clear that the employees understood the strength and importance of the restaurant’s brand. They demonstrated by their service delivery that they believed in living up to the values and brand associated with the restaurant and were concerned with ensuring patrons left their establishment completely satisfied as I did on both occasions last week.
Aside from the food melting in my mouth and tasting like a piece of heaven, here are a few things they did well:
- They greeted me by name and were personable as they escorted us to our tables.
- Prior to leaving the table, the hostess informed us of who would be serving us.
- When the server arrived at the table, he introduced himself and set about engaging in light conversation designed to build rapport.
- They used my name throughout the entire dining experience. This allowed a relationship to develop between us. It made the dining experience personable and personal as it demonstrated I was not just another random patron.
- Our servers were knowledgeable about the menu options and provided more details on those we queried. When asked for recommendations, they told us the most frequently ordered dishes and shared feedback received from other patrons on those dishes.
- Throughout the various courses, they checked with us to ensure our satisfaction with our choices. We ordered some of the recommended items and were extremely satisfied with them.
- They were very attentive. They could be seen observing our tables to determine if we were completed with a course and then as soon as we were they immediately cleared our plates in preparation for the next course. What I especially liked is that they waited until we were both finished prior to clearing the table.
- The restaurant manager stopped at our table to chat for a few minutes on 2 occasions. This was a special touch and it was performed in a way that was not intrusive nor did it feel excessive.
- More than anything though, it was the tone, mannerisms and what seemed to be service from the heart that made this dining experience stand out more than many others.
As a specialist in Customer Service, I am aware that consistency of performance is a challenge many companies face. As I observed the other patrons on the evening I had dinner and on the afternoon I had lunch at this restaurant, I noticed that each patron was being provided with the same level of service. The staff members were all very passive but engaged in their interactions. They were sharing genuine smiles; they were listening to and focused on the customer in front of them. There was no idle chat going on as they stood observing for clues on when to return to their tables and they worked well in teams to provide this blow away dining experience. This restaurant clearly makes service consistency a top priority and it was clear that they took the time to properly train their staff members. What was also clear was that the manager was just as engaged in the process. He was working with his staff members and also observing their overall performance.
Consistency of service is attainable and trainable. Some of the requirements to achieve performance consistency include selecting the right fit for the job, training, working along with your team, providing clear performance requirements and creating a positive work culture. Stay tuned to my blog next week which will focus on creating a culture that promotes performance consistency.
Tip of the Week: Tune into your customers, connect with them and build a rapport with them. Try connecting heart to heart. This will help your customers to relax and to trust you. It will also set the foundation necessary for a great customer experience.