If you have ever been to a high end restaurant for a special occasion, you have certain expectations based solely on the restaurant’s price, menu, and location. Those expectations usually include quality, value, service, atmosphere, and the overall experience. I had the pleasure of dining at a wonderful restaurant where the entire evening, from the moment I walked in the door until I left, worked like a well-oiled machine. The experience was phenomenal and I could see the quality, efficiency, speed, and attention to the smallest details.
It was clear that the restaurant had invested a lot of time in formulating a strategy, investing in the right people, creating a smooth process, and preparing wonderful food. The menu contained reasonable choices for a variety of dining preferences, the wait staff was engaging and friendly, attentive, anticipated the needs of diners, and worked as a cohesive, highly-effective team. The service staff was not intrusive, yet always available. They were great conversationalists, making us feel welcomed and pampered.
Contrast this with another fine dining experience. We arrived on time for our reservation. Our table wasn’t ready, so we were asked to wait for a few moments. Once we were seated, our waitress welcomed us and took our orders, and that’s when things went awry. About 10 minutes after placing our order, our waitress returned to tell us they were sold out of one of the specials and we needed to choose another entrée. The wait staff was rarely present, there was no communication about the status of our meals, our water glasses were empty, there was no bread, our soup, salad, and drink orders were forgotten. The team did not support each other and instead operated as individual islands.
When you think about the product or service you deliver, are you looking at it through the lens of your customer and focusing on how your staff impacts your customer experience? If not, you should be, because how your staff interacts with your customers has a direct effect on the success of your business. Both restaurants were upscale and yet both delivered radically different experiences.
When you look at the first dining experience, the strategic thinking is visible in every area. On arrival, we were greeted by a hostess who was friendly and engaging. She asked how our day was, how long we were visiting, and kept a conversation going until her co-worker arrived to take us to our table. Our water glasses were filled immediately, and our waiter arrived as the glasses were filled. He explained the menu, went over the specials, and took our drink orders. Our drinks arrived minutes later, our appetizers arrived quickly, plates were cleared, and we never lacked for attention. Our entrées were presented at the perfect temperature. After we finished our main course, appropriate time was left before dessert was served. The bus staff placed the dessert silver on the table, and as soon as the last piece was placed, the wait staff appeared with our desserts. The entire dining experience was beautifully orchestrated from start to finish.
Take a moment to think about your product or service and how you create the customer experience. You might even ask your customers for their feedback to get a better idea of how you’re doing. If your business is on a review site on social media, you already have your customers’ feedback about your product or service.
Now, think about how your employees help or hinder that experience. If your reviews are great, congratulations, you are on the right path. If your reviews are less than stellar, you have a little work ahead of you.
Customer feedback is a great place to find data on what you can do better. When it involves customer service and your employees, this information can guide and inform your hiring process. Customers will either rant about or praise the attitudes, behaviors, and skills of your staff. The things that are important or that irritate your customers become the very things that you should be searching for when you are interviewing and hiring your staff.
In my excellent fine dining experience, the qualities that were outstanding in the staff that supported the customer’s expectations for this experience were attentive, caring attitudes, engaging and friendly personalities, the ability to make you feel valued, attention to details, and prompt service. These are the traits that should be embedded in your job descriptions, job ads, interview questions, and reference checks.
In the not-so-excellent fine dining experience, the qualities that stood out were lack of attention to the customers’ needs, no evidence of personality, no conversation with the customer, long periods of time with no visible presence of any staff, no support from other co-workers, and an overarching theme that the customer was not important. You should also be looking for these traits in your process as well. They are your red flags that scream, “Do Not Hire!” These are the people who will cost you time, customers, energy, and create problems with your other team members.
When you have a clear understanding of what you want and what you don’t want, you can strategically design your job descriptions and job postings. You can craft Insightful Interview™ questions that give you a true picture of your candidate so you can avoid relying on those canned responses every candidate has researched. If you’d like some help on designing an Insightful Interview™ question, click here.
What thoughts and ideas do my fine dining experiences spark for you? Please share them in the comments below.
If you’re not quite ready to go it alone and would find it helpful to have someone walk you through the hiring process, schedule a complimentary insight session with me today.