Most everyone has experienced the acute frustration that comes with lousy service. We navigate endless phone menus while in hope of talking to a human. The cable guy who's supposed to show up between noon and 4 p.m. is late. We sit at a restaurant with a bowl of soup in front of us, but there's no spoon in sight.
Good customer service means making your guests feel welcome and taken care of. It means that no matter how they come to you, they leave happy. Most important, no matter what the business, giving good service means your customer will come back for more.
Even at the fanciest restaurants, it's rare to receive stellar service. But when all the pieces fall into place, it is a memorable and wonderful thing. Here are some tips from the restaurant hospitality pros:
At a swanky, busy restaurant, a chef friend sent out a cornucopia of desserts to our table on the house. But what impressed us as much as the generous gift was that, at the start of the meal, a vegetarian companion asked about meat-free offerings. When those sweets arrived at meal's end, the server subtly pointed out which dessert was made with gelatin (an ingredient that's often a no-go for vegetarians) to the meat-eschewing diner. We all felt taken care of, our needs anticipated before we had to voice them. Paying attention to details and listening goes a long way.
Do It Right the First Time
Once a guest waits too long—or way too long—for their short ribs, it almost doesn't matter if they're the most succulent, flavorful, perfect short ribs ever prepared. The diner is already hungry, irritated and let down. Once there is a negative turning point, it is incredibly difficult to win back over a disappointed customer. What's easier? Avoid disappointing the customer in the first place.
Read the Guests
Everyone is different. People go out to eat for many reasons—to do business, to celebrate, to seduce, to taste new things. Some might enjoy a lengthy discussion about Italian wine varietals, others might dread it. Many are right at home in a fancy dining establishment, but many feel intimidated or awkward. So indulge in a long conversation about sous-vide or the provenance of the meal's ingredients only when your guests want to.
Answer complaints. Do everything you can to find a solution. It's true that you can't please everyone, but maybe you can please this one person.
Help People Just Because
Carry someone's bag, or their drink. Hold the door, pull out the chair, fold their sweater nicely if it falls on the floor. Help someone fold up a stroller, hail a taxi or get directions. People will notice.