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Does your Staff Have 'tude?
By Jim T. Coyle, Coyle Hospitality Group
Sunday, 8th April 2007
 
When people rave about good service - they tend to focus on idiosyncratic platitudes and anecdotes that shed very little light on what is great service.

Are there defined service standards?

A study was conducted to see if there were singular components of service that diners value significantly more than others. The results give us a more defined and actionable perspective on diners' definition of great service.

CHG polled 2,826 diners in late 2004 and posed the question: What are the two most important components of great service?

Diners were offered six options, with the list of selections generating randomly. They were:

  • Ability to anticipate needs beyond request
  • Approachability: Smiles, eye contact
  • Enthusiasm: eager to please
  • Capability: Resourcefulness and flexibility
  • Speed & Efficiency
  • Other

Enthusiasm was the clear leader, chosen by 69% of the respondents as one of the two most important elements of service. ‘Ability to Anticipate' came in a distant second with just less than half indicating that it was a crucial element.

The statistics led us to this conclusion: Diners are much more concerned with the "how" than the "what." Understanding and accepting this valuable perspective is vital, especially in the restaurant workplace which is historically very task-driven.

Working with the "How"

How does a restaurant apply this principle of "how" realistically and effectively? The graph above clearly indicates that guests want enthusiasm. Diners want your staff to show both interest and convey excitement. The three main opportunities are Reservations, Greeting and Table Service.

Reservations and Greeting

The survey shows us that "how" the phone is answered is much more important than when the phone is answered or what is said once it is answered. "How" guests are greeted is perceived very carefully. "Were they happy to see me?" (Excitement) "Was I expected and welcomed?" (Interest) are driving the diner's perception much more than tactile aspects of exchanging information discretely and efficiently. A worried or blank look on the host's face bursts a bubble.

Table Service

With regards to Table Service, enthusiasm is most compelling and engaging during the ordering, where dialogue actually proves if enthusiasm is genuine. Staff members must never forget that fine dinin g is actually entertainment, and people enjoy themselves most when the performers show sincere interest in them.

'Ability to Anticipate' points to another important theme in entertainment. Anticipating needs ensures the 'suspension of belief' that is crucial in the enjoyment of a great novel or a great movie. If the diner looks at a wine glass with one sip in it, they become conscious of their needs. Even if the server actually refilled it before becoming empty, the mindset was altered. The glowing reviews in CHG shopping reports often allude to the invisible bussing/service team.

None of the above should diminish the importance of smiling, acting with efficiency or being resourceful. The poll does serve to illustrate the point that great service – in the eyes of the consumer – is mostly about attitude.

About Coyle Hospitality Group

Based in New York City since 1996, Coyle Hospitality Group is a market leader providing mystery shopping and brand quality assurance services exclusively to hotels, restaurants and now spas worldwide. A selection of current Coyle Hospitality Group hospitality clients includes Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, Morgans Hotel Group, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Starr Restaurant Organization, Affinia Hospitality, China Grill Management and Daniel Boulud Restaurants. Since 1996, CHG has completed over 20,000 quality evaluations exclusively for hospitality clients. For more information please visit
www.coylehospitality.com
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