What’s Your Idea of Perfect Service?

What do your customers expect from you? Do you live up to their expectations or only reach your own perceived “ceiling” of service? Are you “good enough”? Maybe. But good enough for whom?

Perfect Service

Once we believe we have little to learn about the needs of our customer we no longer deserve their business – and shouldn’t expect it.

Why should someone do business with you?

  • Is it because you are in their neighborhood? Not good enough…
  • Is it because you keep up with the latest trends? Not important enough…
  • Is it because you run weekly specials or offer discount coupons? You’re not showing value…
  • Is it because your business is “the best”? Not realistic…

If customers should do business with you because “you are the best”, what makes you the best?

No business is perfect, we all make mistakes. Some customers may forgive a slight misstep in service or delay in an order being processed.

Others won’t. They expect perfection. But is that possible?

Should you, we, expect to be perfect? Why would the customer? They “must realize” that mistakes happen, right?

Here’s My Idea of “Perfect Service”

Perfect service is the minimum expectation of the customer.

Once you realize this you can take the steps needed to make it happen.

Here’s a starting point for you:

  1. Reevaluate your employee staffing levels.
  2. Train, train and train your staff.
  3. Provide your employees the tools needed to serve the customer.
  4. Anticipate your customer’s needs.
  5. Use the highest quality products.
  6. Provide a fair price.
  7. Give your customers the “benefit of the doubt”.
  8. If you can’t help your customer, recommend someone who can.
  9. Provide more value until the money they spend is less valuable than what you offer.

So, what’s YOUR idea of perfect service?


Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

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8 thoughts on “What’s Your Idea of Perfect Service?

  1. Thanks for getting the brain power going, after a long exhausting week and weekend!

    I think bad customer service is more easy to identify, in San Diego. It’s when a server or chef doesn’t listen, doesn’t care, is into their own headspace (not the customers) and misunderstand what a customer is asking for, making the customer wrong if a mistake was made.

    A good member of the ‘wait’ staff does anticipate the customers needs, has a smile on their face, a cheerful attitude and is seriously interested in making their customer feel royal. It’s like they’ve stepped into your home and you are welcoming and warm, able to laugh with them, and notice what their needs are. That being said, it would be great if someone serving would know where the line is…. sharing only so much of their personal crisis going on in their lives. Or a Manager sharing the issues of the restaurant (I recently experienced that).

    When a restaurant doesn’t understand why their numbers are down they should first look at the ‘wait’ staff, then the food. The trend lately with vegan is junk food. I look forward to vegan restaurants starting to provide wholesome, delicious meals instead of things laden with fat for flavor (or sugared out desserts) and start insisting that everything be organic. We waste so much less when we buy organic. It does balance out and if you regularly support a local farm or two and grow your own as well, you can get your costs down. Our day is going to come….

    • Hi Chef Marian,

      You touch on something I’ve been thinking of writing about but seem to always forget: the fact that “the kitchen” seems to focus on their needs/wants before those of the customer.

      I’ve seen so many servers come back into the kitchen for a refire or replacement of a dish and have to hear nonsense from the chef. The server is only a conduit of the customer and shouldn’t have to worry about an upset chef tearing into them.

      A meal is never “perfect” unless the paying customer is thoroughly satisfied with it, regardless of what the chef thinks.

      If they want ketchup on their steak, so be it. If they don’t want their haricot vert cooked in tons of butter, so be it. They should get the meal as they wish and it is the responsibility of the team to adjust our service to match, exceed, their wishes.

      Thanks for your comment and welcome to the team!

  2. dear Steve; thank you for your statements concerning: “when do you deliver the perfect service?”
    for me it all starts with the owner(s) and the management highest level of the company!
    you can have the best serving people in the world, but the management has to show and behave themselves as the very best server(s) in the company towards its customers.

    • Correct, perfect service, as well as employee morale, etc. all start from the top. As long as ownership believe and are willing to be the best, it’s surprising what can be achieved. Thanks Siebe.

  3. My idea depends on the ambiance and offerings of the establishment. I expect formal, respectful attentive service at a white tablecloth fine dining restaurant with chef prepared cuisine. I do not want my server to be my “pal” but rather to guide me through an optimal experience- suggestions of wine to complement, offers to replenish bread, etc. This does not mean I do not treat my server as an equal. Server does not ever mean servant to me. If the mood and menu is eclectic and informal, then the service can be more fun and casual- some appropriate joking is fine and adds to the mood. This still doesn’t mean I appreciate either a near empty water glass or one picked up with fingers touching or nearing the top. Casual doesn’t mean ignoring sanitation. I like the trend of putting water carafes on the table for camels like me who drink lots of the stuff. My self esteem does not require the server to flirt with me but I am annoyed when the server flirts with my date- this is our time and I may very well be paying- a rude surprise for them when they have assumed otherwise. It is my opinion that there is a line between being friendly with guests and trying to interject oneself to make the evening about the server, be it their troubles, social needs or anything that isn’t about food or answers to questions. Again, not a servant, my equal, but I am out to get away from it all, not to make a new friend. I treat servers with dignity and respect.

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I agree that service can/may be different depending on the establishment (McDonalds versus 4 Seasons, etc.). But, as you rightly stated, there are certain minimum expectations that mustn’t be changed.

      I too, don’t need a server to be my friend but desire “friendly” service. A warm greeting, pleasant demeanor and anticipating my needs go a long way. No cutesy phrases or smiley faces written on the check, regardless of where I dine.

  4. Excellent – thank you for another great article. To provide excellency in service once or tweice is defenetely not good enough – we have to provide service every day.. Training is sometimes considered cost , and left for later. Quite agree with you when you say that training is essential as well as staff motivation.

    • Thanks Francisco,
      When revenue drops the first thing many businesses cut out is training, citing it’s cost as being prohibitive. That is very short term thinking. Training during these times, and the benefit it provides, can/may turn business around.

      Thanks for your comment.