4 Keys to Exceptional Customer Service

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Competition in the market has become fiercer than ever, so it is of upmost importance to operators that they ensure their customer service is of the highest quality. Delivering exceptional customer service is more than just making sure that food and drinks get out on time. Exceptional customer service is about going the extra mile and being ultra sensitive to guest needs. This becomes particularly challenging as your organization grows to include multiple venues, and it becomes nearly impossible for the owners to keep tabs on how their staffs are performing on a day-to-day basis with each guest.

Here are 4 keys to consistently deliver exceptional customer service, regardless of how large your business grows.

1. Find your ideal labor balance.

Keeping labor costs down may not be the best strategy for those companies committed to delivering a premium experience. Although it is a common practice during tough economic times to ask more of their people, perhaps even beyond their physical capabilities, it is not always the best way to go if your goal is to deliver exceptional customer service. To deliver outstanding guest service, there needs to be a balance between the available staff required to keep things operating smoothly, and keeping labor costs in line.

For example, a restaurant that decides to skimp on investing in a hostess to consistently answer the phone in a professional manner loses out on an opportunity every time the phone is not answered. Similarly, a restaurant that does not invest in bussing staff or support staff to run food runs the risk of unacceptably high bill times, resulting in a dissatisfied guest.

The ideal labor balance has enough people to do all the tasks required to keep sections from crashing, and even though the labor cost may be a bit higher than the “industry average” it keeps the guest experience high, gives the staff ample time to complete tasks that cannot be rushed, and prevents people from feeling overwhelmed by having too much to do with their own two hands.

2. Remind your team daily of your values and expectations.

A documentary aired on CNBC that featured the Grand Hyatt Hotels chain showed how, on a daily basis, there are reminders from the managers to the entire team about company values, expectations, and goals that all have to do with exceeding guest expectations. Although pre-shifts are common in the industry to discuss drink and food features, where most operators fall short is reminding their people what made their business successful to begin with, and constantly drilling it into their head that these values are the foundation of what makes exceptional customer service possible.

3. Secret shop and test your team.

There are stories about the legendary Walt Disney calling into his hotels and restaurants to ensure that the phone was answered a certain way, and that people were following the expectations set forth in their meetings. It is one thing to preach to your team about what you want them to do, but it keeps everyone even higher on their toes when they know you will be testing them to make sure what was discussed is, in fact, executed on a day-to-day basis exactly to the quality that was discussed. Rules, procedures and regulations are only effective when they are enforced.

4. Do surveys with your guests.

Customer satisfaction surveys are now easier to conduct than ever with online tools like Survey Monkey. However, effective surveying can be as simple as a car on a table that reads, “How was your experience?” This direct interaction between owner and guest can serve as valuable information when it comes down to identifying the areas to improve. To get the ultimate acid test on how your company is perceived by your guests, you must ask them directly. The easiest and most non-invasive way to do it is to conduct surveys about their experience as a guest at your business.

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