Across the Canada, there seems to be a steady decline in the customer service levels of nearly every type of business. Companies just aren’t paying enough attention to providing adequate levels of customer service by phone, online or in person. For the American consumer, substandard service has become the new normal.
What’s leading to this decline? In my experience, I’ve noticed that many businesses are making the same mistakes, over and again. There is a lack of training and little investment in basic customer service skills while setting sky-high sales expectations and measuring employee performance with a maniacal zeal. But let's look at Hospitality specifically. I don't believe there is an industry more in need of being hospitable, no? When I lecture on hospitality, I stress the fact that there are three criteria, service, food and ambiance. All three are lectures upon there own. I always make it clear that service is number one. Nothing else really matters if this aspect is not solid. So, what is customer service in hospitality?
1. Put Yourself In Your Customer’s Shoes
Before beginning your operations take a minute and walk into the restaurant as a customer. You will see what the customer sees when they enter, you will feel the energy that a customer may feel. Though it feels like it hardly makes a difference, humans are subconscious beings and the way of entering your restaurant has the capacity to determine how the entire experience will be for them.
If you enter your restaurant and notice that your staff does not smile while greeting the customer, no matter how polite they are it can be upsetting. The key is to set the pace of experience from the beginning.
2. Start From The Greeting
The way you greet your customers is very important for the experience that they will have. Greeting sets the mood of the experience and gives the customers an idea of what to expect. It is safe to assume that a warm greeting will set a happy mood for your customers whereas a merely formal greeting will put them off.
Smiling is a very important part of the greeting and is mostly the difference between a warm, welcoming hello and a merely courteous hello. While etiquette is important it is significant to note that most people in the states appreciate a friendly greeting. Be polite but strike a familiarity with the way you greet your guests.
Also, make sure that the guests are greeted as soon as they enter the restaurant before being shown to their table. Titles like Sir, Miss, or Mrs should do fine when coupled with a proper greeting at the proper time.
3. Mind Your Manners
Make sure that your servers are trained in proper service manners. For a casual dining or a self-service restaurant, this step is not as important for an extraordinary customer service experience but as you move towards fine dine restaurants, service etiquette can make all the difference. Some things that you should not forget are:-
Food should be served and cleared from the diner’s left.
Drinks should be poured from the right.
There should ideally be no need for a server to interrupt the guest but if such a need arises, then the server must be polite.
The guest should not have to ask the server to clear the plates or process the bill. All this must be done by the server in a timely manner.
Train your servers to look out for details so they can get little things to the diners without them having to ask, for example bringing extra napkins or refilling glasses.
If food needs to be served to the guests on the plate, then serve the women first, then the oldest men and then the children.
There, of course is much more to it than this. If you would like more information, head over to www.professionalchefsfoodnetwork.org Here for a small membership fee you will find hundreds of templates, excel sheets and documents to assist with training, monitoring and basically exceling in the customer service for hospitality department.
Cheers, and have a great harvest moon weekend!