by Steve DiGioia, Featured Contributor
AH, A LEISURELY lunchtime meal at my local family-themed restaurant (no need to mention the name, but the story is true). I had high hopes that were dashed before I even sat down, here’s my story.
As we frequently do, my wife and I stopped into our local restaurant for a quick lunch just before we were to pick up our kids from school. A pleasant routine we follow once a week. Family bonding, husband and wife bonding…a date!
As we entered the establishment we stood at the “host stand” and waited to be greeted and quickly seated within the rather large dining room. But this was not to happen. There was no one to greet us, only the empty space once occupied by a host, manager or server. We patiently waited for their return.
A brief time passed, which did seem rather long, and still no one.
I scanned the restaurant looking for someone to help us and saw the bartender speaking with the only patron at the bar. No luck for any interaction toward me. I then spotted a server at the rear terminal (where the food orders are entered in the computer). She finally raised her head and I made a point of catching her eye in the hopes of assistance. Nothing happened.
Then another server came out from the kitchen and delivered food to a table not far from where we were sanding. My gaze this time was direct and it worked! She saw me, I saw her. But alas, no effort was made to acknowledge what should have seemed to her as a patron waiting to be seated. I guess she was too busy taking care of the only 4 occupied tables in the restaurant.
She quickly returned to the kitchen and I hoped she would inform someone of our presence. Again nothing.
Now at this point, my wife knows me well enough to say “I’m ready if you are” as we both nodded and quickly exited the restaurant in search of another establishment eager for my business.
Ten minutes later we are at the door of another restaurant where we are greeted by a wide-eyed youngster who possessed a big smile, delivered a warm welcome and seated us at a table. He even explained some of the daily specials and let us know the name of our server who came quickly behind him.
A decent meal was had and we were on our way, knowing which restaurant wanted our business and which didn’t.
I am always surprised at the level of service, or attention to detail shown, from one business to another.
Does it seem reasonable to expect that a successful business will examine all aspects of their customer interaction to ensure all “touch points” are taken care of? I would hope so.
Whether it’s the businesses call center, or its marketing efforts, its front-line service staff or the employees that man the return desk, all points must be aligned to provide the best possible experience for the customers. When any one point falters we should not question why revenues fall, or their market share drops or guest feedback is poor.
If not, maybe you, just as I, would have to go to another business just to get your lunch, because there was no one to welcome a cash-paying customer. What a shame…