Across the board all of us have had good and bad experiences with customer service. It seems the more large corporations speak of customer service the less they provide. How is it possible to be on hold for over an hour with the constant droning of canned music in the back ground while they remind you how important this call is to them? Then, they add insult to injury professing that this call will be monitored and recorded to assist them with providing better customer service in the future. That little gem of wisdom never seems to materialize.
In my business, the restaurant business, there seems to be quite the disparity between an order taker and an experience creator. Instead of being put on hold you are left in the hands of someone (usually) you do not know, thus placing your trust in a stranger. The order taker is quite content to list items he or she likes while not revealing signature dishes or even caring to ask what type of experience the guest is looking for. This, paired with a lack of knowledge for the substantive dialogue that produces an actual memory is at the core of what I will address today.
Practicing a dialogue that changes based upon the information you are able to gather from the guest can help you delve into the guests needs, wants, and desires... within reason of course. I believe the most important aspect of the dining experience is building trust. We must provide the guest with the information they are looking for and beyond to develop the trust necessary to achieve the goal of an unparalleled dining experience. If we as gourmet food servers can rise to the level of trust that makes the guest believe he or she will receive the best of what that dining experience has to offer, in that restaurant, at that moment in time, then we have a return guest for life.
Today it is vitally important (in this very difficult business) to create something different that translates to guests extolling the virtues of said restaurant on social media platforms. Pictures of food and kind encouraging words that promote the restaurant can easily sway even the most seasoned diner. Five star reviews are difficult to get but when they happen it means that the team in that section on that particular night performed at their highest level of service. The sense of accomplishment for attaining that review reflects the training, teaching, and wisdom that comes from a career in the hospitality industry.
As we gaze into the future for fine dining, whether we are encouraged to keep the mask on or finally return to some semblance of normality, it is abundantly clear that guests are more enlightened and educated than ever before. It is with this understanding that we rise to new heights of unparalleled guest service which combines education with theatre thus rewarding the more sophisticated client that basks in the bright light that is the dining experience.
Next time you arrive at a destination restaurant, enjoy the moment. Put down the phone (unless to take a picture of the food) and relish the guide that will take you to the culinary place you desire. This, within the confines of a reward that will make your stomach connect with your heart to unveil a compartment that unlocks the joy within.
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