What Happened To The Dining Experience We Used To Receive?

...do you still care about customer service or is it all about the money

Being in the hospitality business for over 20 years, I have seen some of the best and worst at their trade. But the dining experience sure has changed…

dining experience

From the hardworking, studious college kid that was very driven and worked as a waiter 6-days a week to put himself through school; the gravelly-voiced divorced mom of 4 grown kids that needed to pay her bills and get her life back on track; the pretty girl who thought her looks was her ticket to fame and fortune and that being a waiter was only a temporary setback for her; and the overweight nerdy-guy that really couldn’t relate well with his customers, continually came in late and never got a close shave but always found time to play dungeons & dragons.

They all had one thing in common, they wanted to earn as much in tips on each shift as they possibly could! And why not?  That’s why they have a job.

But whatever happened to customer service?  What happened to the dining experience we used to receive?  Where are all the waiters of days gone by?

It seems like all the “nice” restaurants have been replaced by themed restaurants, ones that think the way to decorate a restaurant is to hang countless photos of actors, sports memorabilia, and even small boats on their walls.  Regardless of the atmosphere of the establishment, service has definitely changed over the years.

With very few exceptions, gone are the days where a waiter will ‘de-bone” a fresh-caught fish table side.  And frankly, (more…)

Black Friday Shopping Brings Out The Worst In Us

…no wonder why customer service is so bad – my rant!

We have turned into a group of inconsiderate, rude, thoughtless, disrespectful and egocentric miserable people. The worst traits of one’s personality show when presented with a “great deal” on a TV, toaster oven or pair of sneakers. Surely, Black Friday shopping brings out the worst in us.

Black Friday Shopping Brings Out The Worst In Us

In ever increasing frequency, the news reports covering the past few years’ Black Friday sales have focused on the “great” prices to be had on items me “must” have. These reports are now overshadowed by the lunacy of shoppers from all corners of our great land detailing the fights, scuffles, arguments and mayhem our once-respectful shopping public now partake in.

Black Friday is the only shopping holiday with its very own death count:

10 deaths, 105 injuries since 2006 with an honorable mention to the Texas pair who “beat, strangled and set on fire an assistant store manager to steal thousands of dollars of Black Friday sales” and the California father charged with the vehicular manslaughter of his two daughters, when, after only three hours of sleep in 24 hours, he crammed his four children into the back car seat designed for only three. According to reports: “A seat in the third row was folded down to make room for the family’s purchases.” *

What has caused this? (more…)

Do You Need to be Assertive to Provide Great Customer Service?

…here’s 7 ways to get you started

You still haven’t learned how to speak up, huh? Maybe you’re just afraid of confrontation? I know, you don’t want to offend anyone, right? Don’t want to come across as too assertive or even aggressive; what’s the difference anyway?

Do You Need to be Assertive to Provide Great Customer Service

The service you provide has always lacked because of your fear of “taking charge” and not wanting to offend your customers. There was always that little hesitation, that delay, that pause, that prevented you from reaching the level of your peers. You’re tired of always missing out on the recognition bestowed on others.

But why does this happen? Maybe you’re not cut out for this…

Here are some common thoughts about business;

  • You have to be ruthless to get ahead – but that’s not your style
  • You won’t be successful if you let others walk all over you – but you can’t help it, it just happens…

You’re told “be a tiger and go out there – be assertive”. But how?

Customer service employees must walk a fine line between satisfying the needs of their customers and ensuring they uphold the standards and expectations of their company. They are individuals who give of themselves and ensure the customer experience is second to none. They create memories.

But what about the memories of those entrusted to provide the actual service?

We must feel good about the service we provide AND we must feel good about ourselves. That’s not possible if we fear being assertive, straightforward, frank, clear-cut or any other descriptive word you wish to use.

We need to have the mindset of (more…)

Did He Really Say Have a Sparkling Day?

...I thought I was hearing things.

Deep inside my sleep-induced stupor I heard a faint “ding” every once and awhile, then the murmur of a man. A slight heave left or right and the clang of metal finally woke me. Then the ding came again.

Have a Sparkling Day

This time I opened my eyes. Nothing was unusual, just a few people walking down the aisle of the Amtrak train I was on during a recent trip to Boston. As they headed for the exit doors the conductor came over the loud speaker and thanked the “customers”, NOT riders, for joining him on the trip today.

The usual canned banter from most employees when tasked with making announcements was replaced with a friendly, comforting and surprisingly welcoming change from what I’ve been accustomed to hearing.

He informed us of the name of the stop along with the one coming up next followed by the weather. He ended with a most unusual phrase; (more…)

Are Your Service Employees No Better Than a Statue in the Park?

…if so, here’s 5 simple ways to fix it

I watched the customer’s eyes scan the area, first to the left then to the right side of the store. He hoped to make eye contact with the sales woman but alas, no luck. Apparently she had more important tasks to do than tending to the customer. What was so important that she had to give statue service?

Statue Service

Sending a text to a friend, updating her Facebook page, combing her hair and then checking her makeup. These are all “important tasks” but not while working. There are customers to serve…

I was watching too. I saw the sales person finish her tasks then just stand there and not offer help to the customer. What was she waiting for?

Should the customer search aisle after aisle for help or should he toss up his hands in frustration and just walk out. The latter happens more than we realize.

Most lost business comes from the customer we haven’t serviced or were even aware of. The customer expected service and received none so they went elsewhere. When employees are more focused on personal or administrative tasks that take them away from the service floor where the sale is made, we shouldn’t wonder why our revenues fall.

Here are some facts that back this up: (more…)

What’s More Difficult; Dealing With a Customer Face-to-Face or Over the Phone?

Well I think it’s very easy to answer; face-to-face communication is definitely more difficult. When you’re dealing with somebody face to face you’re not just listening to the words they are saying, you are also judging them by the actions of their entire body.

Face-to-Face or Over the Phone

You’re looking at their eyes and their hand gestures. You’re looking at how they’re standing, their facial expressions and overall body language.

The situation may change their words but their body says more and it’s usually correct. Click To Tweet

If they show a “closed up” posture, shoulders slouched with a head down; they may just be shy or introverted. It’s more difficult for them to state their case. If their hands are in pockets or covered they may be deceptive and hiding something. If they’re standing tall, hands out in front with palms up and looking you right in the eye while smiling, they’re probably being honest.

When dealing with a customer over the phone body language is not a factor. You, or your customer, can be in the office in pajamas and fuzzy slippers. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing as long as the words that come over the phone line are pleasant and are appropriate for the situation. (more…)

Why The World is NOT Full of Guys

...please use the correct words

Respect. We all want it, need it and deserve it. But when we use words that have “no meaning” we carelessly speak with disrespect to our customers. Why do we continually refer to “everyone” as a guy?

the world is not full of guys

Over the course of my training career I have constantly said “words have meaning”. We must speak with clear intent, understanding that our words bring life to all situations. Click To Tweet

With a few sincerely-meant words we can easily take a dissatisfied customer and turn them around, providing we use appropriate actions to match. Just as easily, we can take a content customer and, using a few seemingly innocent words, show disrespect, imply a lower status and diminish their worth.

Here’s an example that I bet most of you have encountered…

(more…)

Read How CD Baby Turns a Mundane Email Into an “Exceptional Conversation”

Correspondence from most members of the retail industry is reduced to little more than a form letter with a few “mail-merged” names; the letter can fit most circumstances and usually does. Isn’t it about time someone uses their imagination and creates a response that we look forward to read…and share?

cd baby shipping letter

Derek Sivers, who founded CD Baby in 1998, once the world’s largest online distributor of independent music, had a brainstorm. Initially his company sent out a standard automated e-mail with every order that let the customer know when the CD was actually shipped. At first it was just the normal “Your order has shipped today. Please let us know if it doesn’t arrive. Thank you for your business.”

But quickly, he felt he could do better. He spend 20 minutes and created an email, the shipping letter, which has since brought smiles to everyone who has read it and reportedly led to their largest increase in customers since.

Here’s the email… (more…)

Do All Your Touch Points Need to be Perfect?

...or, does allowing a little "customer pain" actually help?

Pursuing excellence, customer centricity and continuous improvement are obsolete; so says Sampson Lee in his 2015 article “Turn Upside Down How PAIN is Perceived in Innovating CX and Brand Management”.

Touch Points

I am glad to say that I haven’t really had many bad customer service experiences, just some that fell short of expectations or I was disappointed in. Did this cause me “pain”? No, not in the literal sense but it did show a gap between expectations and my willingness to “accept” what was not to my liking.

The most recent example came when I took my wife to a great resort spa for her birthday, just a quick overnight stay at a spa that was rated in the top 5 in the country. Everything was top notch, a beautiful property, excellent bellman & front desk service and the spa was fantastic!

The employees were so friendly and professional, we had a great time.

Now I know why they are rated so high, they deserved it…

But when most of the company is operating at such a high level, the departments that do not maintain the same level of service really stand out.

This happened with the (more…)

What’s The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter?

…your 11 step expert guide

American diners are a fickle bunch. We love going out to eat but when the check comes we don’t know what to do. How much should we tip? Is it 15%, 18%, 20% or more?

What's The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter

It’s gotten so bad that many restaurant chains now place a “tip guide” on the bottom of their checks that list the recommended tip in percentage and dollar amounts. Yes, this makes it easier to figure out the totals but what do we base these amounts on?

Well it depends.  It depends on:

1.      Did the waiter greet you with a warm sincere smile?

2.      Did the waiter make you feel welcome?

3.      Did the waiter inform you of the various possibilities of food substitutions for your meal?

4.      Did the waiter make your children feel important and not like a nuisance?

5.      Did the waiter get your order correct and present it to you as advertised? (more…)