A recent article in Restaurant Business magazine uncovered the drastic effect poor service now has on restaurant operators. The good news is that, at nearly the same time, American Express reported a survey that found customers have become so generally dissatisfied they are willing to pay, on average, a nine-percent premium to businesses that deliver exceptional service.
The downside, of course, is that when you DON’T take proper care of your guests, not only will you lose their business forever, but they’ll also broadcast the gory details of their miserable experience on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets.
It used to be that a dissatisfied guest would tell eight to10 people. That was when spreading the word was all about person-to-person contact. With the advent of online media, now an angry guest can tell thousands … and those negative reviews have more impact on the buying decisions of others than do positive reviews.
And the downward trend is accelerating. A recent survey of 11,000 U.S. consumers found that 62 percent of customers said that service was getting worse, up from 55 percent just three months before. Yikes! Are we just educating our customers to eat at home?
These surveys were only looking at service. Had they delved into hospitality the numbers would probably have been much worse. Service is about what you DO, hospitality is about how people feel about it. There is a BIG difference.
The opportunity in all this is that if you get passionate about taking good care of your guests, not only will they return more often and be less sensitive to price, but they will become your biggest cheerleaders via social media.
This is the difference between marketing and connecting; between a fixation on “selling stuff” and a focus on creating a relationship where people do business with you because they WANT to. It’s the difference between trying to generate more transactions and trying to create more personal connection.
It is called hospitality folks and it is as old as civilization itself. But you can’t teach it like you teach job skills. Good service is important, of course, but when you understand how to create and nurture a climate where hospitality can bloom naturally, you will be on your way to owning your market.
I’ve developed many ideas on this subject in my years as a restaurant consultant. They will form the core of my content in my seminars at the next Pizza Expo.
See Bill Marvin at International Pizza Expo® / Click Here to Register for Expo
Bill Marvin, the Restaurant Doctor, is a longtime consultant to the pizza industry and presenter at Pizza Expo. He’ll offer solutions to customer service issues during his seminars at the March 2012 Expo—“Why Guests Don’t Come Back, and What to Do About It” and “The Hospitality Factor.”