In the service world, catering is the one with the most experience. Restaurants have been around since the antiquity, competition is never-ending, and customers are very demanding.
For those reasons, paying attention to how restaurants do things is enlightening.
In this case, my team manages the full lifecycle of customers, from welcoming them (aka onboarding), to delivering the day-to-day activities, reporting, all while improving the quality of the service.
How much effort (in proportion) should go into each activity is critical to happy customers and P&L. Who should make the decision? The leadership, the people closest to the information, or the full team?
I believe restaurants have the answer, and here are the lessons:
- The welcoming of new customers is the most critical part. It is so vital that there is a dedicated person assigned to it (the Maitre d'), which makes sure we sit (once sited it is very “rude” to leave) and get the menu. Even in fast food, the welcoming is first, as soon as you enter a fast-food, the first thing you see is people smiling, ready to take your order.
- Consistency is second, one bad meal and you lose the customer. Consistency is also why people go to fast-food chains while on holiday, they know what they get. While I find the practice terrible, searching for safety is one of the most fundamental instincts of us humans.
- Simple, (standard is even better) way to choose. A paper menu is still the world standard. Be ready with some ready answers to answer the “what do you recommend” type of questions
- Taking the order happens soon after and that includes paying attention to special requests (chargeable)
- The work to craft the solution (cooking) follows. Customers allow some time (but not too much) for the preparation. Still, they need to updated regularly.
- The presentation of the finished product needs to be well done and tailored to how the customer wants to consume it. For example, a bag for take-away.
- During the consumption of the product get some feedback (not too often) and be ready for new requests. Some things should happen automatically, like feeling the glasses.
- Next is pay. Which seems vital, but the actions say otherwise. In a restaurant, while the payment needs to be simple, the customer is expected to do most of the work. Like catching a waiter’s attention, ask for the bill, review, split if needed, provide the payment mean and the money. The assumption is that customers are honest and will not leave without paying.
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