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When Waiters Have to Bring Bad Food

Posted on August 22, 2012 , by Steve Bernstein
CATEGORIES: Loyalty Research

I caught a neat little article that – while written specifically to the restaurant industry – is applicable to any business.  In fact, it ties nicely to a whitepaper we wrote a while back titled, “When the Waiter Brings Bad Food:  Measuring the contribution of the Service / Support Organization in an environment of intervening external influences.”
I wanted to call out this part of the article:

Are you helping the business optimize investments, with the right mix of proactive-experience and reactive-service, in order to maximize value?

Are you helping the business optimize investments, with the right mix of proactive-experience and reactive-service, in order to maximize value?

“Own” the dining experience – No, waiters are not the ones cooking the food, and they are in limited position to actually transform the culinary element of the dining experience. But as the face of the restaurant’s service effort, they are the ones linked to the dining experience, and they are the ones the customer immediately holds accountable for the quality of the meal.
“Waiters need to assure they indeed accept that accountability. A pivotal element of delivering a quality customer experience is “thinking like the customers” and understanding what it will take to satisfy them. Food is important, and if waiters do not sympathize with diners who received a bad plate and share in the ecstasy of those who enjoyed their meals, they will be unable to customize their service offerings to the reality of the situation.
“Waiters need to own customers as their own customers, and they need to serve as customer advocates when communicating with the rest of the staff. They might not be making the food, but they are the ones entrusted with keeping the customer happy, and they must do what it takes to get the entire restaurant committed to that quality experience. If the chef drops the ball on a meal, the waiter should not feel immune because he did not make it but should instead demand satisfaction because his customer has been let down.
“Waiters must look at their roles not as middlemen between the culinary artists and patrons but as facilitators between a customer’s desire for a great experience and the restaurant’s success I creating that aura of excellence.”

While this is all accurate (and I’m confident that any service organization already does feel ownership for delivering an excellent customer experience), the fact remains that service organizations can only do so much, yet often take the heat for poor customer feedback (as noted in the above mentioned whitepaper).  Service and Support organizations are often blamed for not being able to adequately address customer problems, deal with floods of incoming incidents, or drive cross-sell opportunities.  Before blaming “Customer Service,” the business should understand why – the genuine root causes, not symptoms – customers are requiring reactive service in the first place.  Instead of relying on service centers to be the “catch all” for customer issues, I think we’d all agree that business needs to place more emphasis on isolating the reasons why customers need reactive service and deal with those situations proactively.  Managing to reactive service levels is a business decision, and the dollars spent there can either be allocated to dealing with issues, or be allocated to proactively creating promoters.  Which has the better ROI?
The full article is here: 5 Ways to Be a Better Waiter, Deliver a Better Restaurant Experience.

Check out the whitepaper based on this topic