I always look forward to my North American journeys as I anticipate great hospitality service and excellence in the retail sectors. It doesn’t matter whether it is the hotel staff who we know are working hard for that expected gratuity or if it is a check-out person in a grocery store working for a meagre minimum wage without the benefits of tips. I get the impression they are all pleased to have a job and understand that their tenure may depend on their performance. California and Texas are the two States where I can claim significant experience over the past decade or so and I have found both to be fundamentally sound in terms of meeting the customer’s expectations and often exceeding them. I am intrigued by the role of basic etiquette in the way that service is delivered. Skills and technical knowledge vary but the consistent ingredient is attitude. Friendly, courteous and engaging service usually outshines the failure to answer a technical question or the delivery of an incorrect meal to a guest. Even in the event of insufficient knowledge or an error of skilled delivery, our American colleagues make it their mission to “get that sorted for you Sir”. I’m often left wondering how we could do better in Australia in terms of coaching our venue staff to be more genuine in their engagement with customers. Disengaged staff who follow the sales script to the letter, leave me colder than a day old cappuccino. (not to mention probably feeling a little bit sick and unlikely to return to the venue) We need to reinforce a positive pride in our profession and lead our service teams to engage in courteous interactions that welcome each and every guest into our venues. The businesses that can encourage vital and energetic staff to really relate to their customers will win. They will be the venue receiving repeat business and the inevitable accolades across social media platforms. We all know the power of “word-of-mouth” and in a digital age that power has been exponentially accelerated. Our good news stories start with a good old fashioned, well mannered greeting and we should build on that for the duration of our guest’s visit to our establishment, right up to the point where they leave our venue. After all there are plenty of venues to choose from!
Author – Dave Upson, Managing Director, Train My Venue.