you can’t train customer service

Some of you are thinking, “Oh yeah, tell that to my manager.  We have a twelve step program that teaches us all about providing great customer service.”  I don’t doubt that’s true and I have actually been guilty of doing this same thing.  I see a crew member that isn’t providing great customer service and I would sit them down and talk to them about the steps they missed.  But did the customer notice?  Isn’t that the best judge of whether someone is providing great customer service?

I’ve worked in the restaurant business for over 20 years and I don’t think I could remember more than 5 of the 12 steps of service we used to drill in to servers heads.  I know I wouldn’t notice one missing if I was dining out.  But what I would notice is if a server or staff member had low energy or a bad attitude.  I would notice whether or not it seemed like the person wanted to be there, if they cared anything about getting my wife her dressing on the side, or if we liked our meal.

Restaurateur, Danny Myer, doesn’t use the term customer service.  He uses hospitality.  I like that better.  It speaks to a persons personality and how they make you feel.  If that’s how you define great customer service then no 12 step program is going to help.  You have to hire the right people and take care of them.  Not everyone is meant to be a scientist, a doctor, or a lawyer.  By the same logic there are certain qualities that a person must have to work in restaurants.  Your interviewing and recruiting should center around finding people with these qualities, and your training and development should focus on how to keep these people happy.  HAPPY CREW = HAPPY CUSTOMERS.  Everybody understands that.

If you’re interested in hospitality I recommend reading “Setting the Table” by Danny Meyer.

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