Poor service leaves customers with bad tasteDon’t let poor service leave bad taste in customers’ mouths Most often, I try to focus on the positive, but I have a gripe and I’m pretty darn sure I’m not alone in my view: Good customer service is hard to come by these days.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
Don’t let poor service leave bad taste in customers’ mouths
Most often, I try to focus on the positive, but I have a gripe and I’m pretty darn sure I’m not alone in my view: Good customer service is hard to come by these days.
The most service-oriented business I can think of, food service, is a good example. I appreciate the menu variety and personable atmosphere of smaller, mom and pop restaurants, but I am appalled at what passes for customer service in comparison to the corporate cousins.
Having spent many years in working in restaurants as a waitress and cook, I know both sides of the table and grill. Creating a favorable customer experience isn’t rocket science; it’s just common sense.
No. 1: The customer is always right (given they are not committing a crime, which should go without saying). When I was a kid, business owners posted signs telling the customer so, and perhaps as a frequent self-reminder. A satisfied customer makes for a happy customer, makes for a profitable business. Capiche?
Good tasting, well-presented food is a no-brainer, as you would think cleanliness might be. It turns out, not so much. For the record, a restaurant can never be clean enough. If I see grease-grime on high shelves or other hard to reach areas, if your bathrooms aren’t sparkling, if your windows are dingy, it tells me your food prep area likely isn’t clean either.
Cleanliness extends to personal appearance as well (which should also go without saying, but apparently doesn’t). Wear well fitting, mended if necessary, clean clothes to work. Yes, the restaurant business can be dirty — that’s what aprons are for. Wear them, change them and launder them as often as necessary. And for decency sake, please wear the proper undergarments.
The bottom line is, if you don’t take pride in your business and personal appearance, I’m pretty sure you don’t take pride in your work, which happens to be preparing my food, when I come to your restaurant.
While we’re still on the subject of cleaning, run your exhaust fans every day, all day, and change or scrub the filters often. Likewise, change your fryer grease often. There is a difference between the tantalizing aroma of delicious food and the stench of kitchen grease. When grease stench leaves with me, clinging to my clothes for the rest of the day, I’m not likely to come back any time soon.
Put on your smile when you walk through the door; whatever happened at home stays at home. Don’t become too personal even with your most frequent customers, or engage in personal conversations with family, friends or employees where your customers can hear.
Please leave your pets at home — not everybody thinks your dog is as adorable as you do. And do not allow your customers to bring pets (other than service animals) into your establishment either. This is one time when the customer is not right.
In fact, when any customer infringes on the comfort level, safety or health of any other customer, good customer services dictates that you step in. This includes obnoxious behavior (like talking too loud on a cell phone) inappropriate language that can be overheard by others, and personal grooming, like touching up a manicure, combing hair or my favorite-to-despise, the quick diaper change in the booth, or good-god-forbid, on the table.
Perfect the time management of serving a meal. Wait on your customers soon — even in the middle of a rush at least bring water, menus, and a promise to be back. Once customers have ordered, there is no excuse for more than a 30-minute wait for their entrée to arrive. If it takes longer than that, you aren’t prepping right or you are understaffed.
Alternately, do not rush the service. Don’t bring the salad before they’ve finished their soup and don’t bring the entree when they are still eating their salad, unless they have requested it.
The quality, availability and presentation of your food must be consistent. When I order an omelet I expect it to have the same number of eggs, the same variety of cheese and the same filler ingredients each time I order it — not what you happen to have on hand that day.
And, please, make sure all of your cooks know the difference between a rare, medium or well done steak, including all ranges in between.
Nobody is perfect all the time. There will always be a few mistakes, but when lack of common sense and courteous service become the only consistent thing about your restaurant, don’t blame the economy for the lack of business.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.