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There are five essential service points where dining operations create the foundations for any culture of a great service experience.

Viewpoint: The five essential service points for food service operations

There are five essential service points where dining operations create the foundations for any culture of a great service experience.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of Food Management.

What are the five essential service points for operations?

We are all striving to deliver excellent service to our customers. It is sometimes an elusive goal when it is not you yourself delivering to the customer. Conveying your vision, goals and expectations of great service is your No. 1 objective with any staff member.

Everyone says customer satisfaction is key to a successful business. The experience of the customer is important. A good experience generally will lead to repeat visits and/or good reviews of your service or product. But how do you get to that elusive great experience?

You have likely encountered at least one memorable experience in your work, travels or neighborhood that you have shared with your friends or family. Inspiring stories of fabulous customer service are all over the internet such as “Joshie the Giraffe” or the Starbucks employee that learns sign language to ‘speak’ with their deaf customer and those remarkable ‘Little Things’ videos that Chick-fil-A has captured about their customer experiences.

The ability for a company to make these moments happen routinely, without effort is the goal.  We have found that there are five essential service points to create the foundations for any culture of great service experience. 

  1. Talent Readiness

A critical first step to a great experience is not only hiring the right talent for your business but also getting them ready to deliver that experience. How you train them, show and instill a culture of service that can be translated to the customer is how the experience magic happens. What does your training program look like and how do you know your team is ready to delight a customer?

  1. First Impressions

The first time you answer your phone, greet a guest, or send a note or email to a response to a question or request is forever lasting. Coaching your team to approach these firsts with the most genuine and intentionally positive mentality will help you elevate your service. The increase in business by phone means you need to make sure you are focused on that area for training. You only have seven seconds to make that first great impression on a phone call. Scripting is not the answer either, it is giving them your undivided attention and human interaction that wins them over in that first seven seconds. 

  1. Great Leadership

The firms that lead with a customer-first focus usually have the leadership acting and doing in a similar manner with their teams and staff. The CEO that helps a staff member pay for college or a manager that works the holiday so a team member can spend time with their family are the ones that have the loyal team members that can give back to their customers. Leaders that take initiative, listen, self-reflect and give credit to those around them getting the job done. When a quarterback thanks his offensive line for getting the win, how does that offensive line play the next time?

4.         The Unknowns

Predictive or prescriptive actions are generally those that will not overly delight a customer. Spontaneous and unexpected gestures are what stick and grow in the lore of the 280 or less social media world of ‘great’ ideas. That car repair person that knows you and gives you their “Tuesday” discount (when there really is no discount) without you asking or featuring a special recognition for the frequent customer to your café is one example. Helping the team brainstorm or do the unexpected is part of the culture you need to create.

5.         The Closing

How you finish the interaction with any customer is as important as the first impression. Like landing that perfect dismount in gymnastics, that is what the judges see as the exclamation point to that routine. Do that one gesture of appreciation, give them an experience, help hit their positive “reset” button for the rest of the day. This goes for any exiting customer from a phone order to go or as they are walking out the restaurant or cafe door giving them one more thing to rave about! 

How can you start to move your team from good to awesome service?  These are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Generate and reinforce positive thinking
  • Good communication skills—active listening and adapting to the customer
  • Implement some basic sales techniques
  • Train for soft skills
  • Brainstorm innovative solutions to the most common or frequent problems

Georgie Shockey is the principal of Ruck-Shockey Associates Inc. a consulting firm that inspires breakthroughs in operations. She can be reached at [email protected].

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