Sunday, June 17, 2007

Service, it's all about COMMUNICATION!

SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) and I very recently ate at a restaurant the we have enjoyed the first two times we have eaten there,however, the last trip was a service nightmare. I only mention the following as a guide for servers and customers. (On our show, we have reviewed and reported on over 175 restaurants in 5 cities.)
We were greeted very well as soon as we walked in (by a rather tall pleasant brunette), we were told there was a 20-30 minute wait (very good COMMUNICATION)! We were asked if we would like to sit at the bar, we chose to, and a few minutes before we ordered our drinks we were told a table would be ready shortly, the hostess then asked if we would like to wait and order our drinks from our table instead(EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION).
We were seated at 6:25 pm with silverware and menus placed in front of us....then things/COMMUNICATION broke down, horribly. (Note: Hostesses need to COMMUNICATE with servers to let them know someone is seated in there area....this is just a suggestion, but when practiced it helps alleviate problems like the one soon to be described...I do not know if this was done or blame here, just a suggestion)
We were TOTALLY IGNORED by everyone (Note: at least 3-4 staffers cruised our area the whole time....bussers you can COMMUNICATE too, let the server know someone is at there table) till approximately 6:43 (at the same time I went up to find the hostess to inquire as to what server we are supposed to have).
Now, the server that was waiting the table behind and to the side of us did a nice job of taking care of HIS tables but could have cared less about ours (Note to servers: If you see a table that is not yours that has obviously been missed ASK THEM IF THEY HAVE BEEN SERVED then HELP THEM...I know it's not your station, or your tip, however you need to COMMUNICATE that a customer needs assistance...really. If they do not need anything I assure you they will appreciate the COMMUNICATION). I digress.
The hostess (NOT the same one that seated us) seemed genuinely concerned when I told her of my dilemma and she followed me back to my table where we both saw a server had finally soon as she saw the server, and, before I could say anything she took off and went back to her station....(Note: Let the owner or GM know right away that there is a service issue....let them decide what to do, but, let them know....COMMUNICATE).
Now our server came up cheerful (like we had just been seated), knew his menu fairly well and asked us what we would like, we ordered our drinks...they came out in about 5 minutes...OK I guess, then we ordered our apps and said we would order main course when apps came out...apps took about 20 minutes during which time we never saw our server again, except, to run food and drink to the table behind us while our glasses and bread dip lay barren. SWMBO finally took it upon herself to go and get refills, yes my wife went and got our refills, our server came back shortly AFTER she got our refills and asked if we needed anything. Hmmmm, we have full glasses and no bread dip (a signature item) what would you think, why would you ask if I needed something... the dip plate is EMPTY let me know your going to fill it...don't wait for me to ask you!....well you get the picture. (Note: Servers need to follow up at least twice between courses to check water, and whatever....COMMUNICATE with your customer, let them know you care and are there for them, let them know generally what the disposition of there food them the love baby). When the app finally made it out, the risotto and scallops were very flavorful but lukewarm at best. (Note: Now, nobody new that our apps were lukewarm because our server never asked us.... COMMUNICATE, ask your customer how there food is within a reasonable time after they receive it...don't be afraid, it's OK if it's not right, this gives YOU the chance to fix it and become a hero and possibly another 5%, not asking, makes you the goat).
Finally, someone COMMUNICATED with us, as the OWNER/Chef/Expediter came to our table and asked how everything was....we COMMUNICATED back to him our concerns. He was noticeably shaken, and I told him I would send him and e-mail with my concerns. The service nightmares ended right then-and-there!
We like and respect the owner of this establishment, so we COMMUNICATED our concerns to hopefully help him, his staff and his business.
When you get bad service or have major concerns it is your OBLIGATION to COMMUNICATE those concerns to management and or owners. For then, can you truly say, you have done your part at being a good customer. Then, observe how the management/owner team reacts to your concerns, that will speak volumes as to what kind of team they really are. The true test of a team/restaurants quality, is not necessarily how things are handled when everything is right, but, how the team handles problems when things go wrong....that is the true test.
A good chef and good food can be destroyed by poor service....conversely, so-so food can seem much better when very good customer service/COMMUNICATION is practiced.
Try a Waffle House sometime....we kinda like the service (overall)....and the scattered, smothered, covered and chunked....



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