We spoke to several hospitality operators and experts to discover their top advice for how to deliver great service, whether you run a hotel, pub or restaurant:
“You have to read the customers and give them what they want. Make them think that what they’re getting is special. They all want something that’s just for them at that moment.” – Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows.
“Chefs see front of house as enemies. They are your friends. At Le Manoir we have meetings every week where we talk about any problems. It’s important that chefs talk with front of house staff.” – Raymond Blanc, chef proprietor Manior aux Quat'Saisons.
“You need to treat people how you want to be treated and that goes for staff and customers. If you’ve got a manager who’s not very inspiring and doesn’t push the team in the right way there’s not much hope. The manager’s got to be the right person from the start - it has such an impact on staff.” – Sally Whelan, director of The Mystery Dining Company.
“The real key to delivering excellent customer service is identifying why your customers are there. This allows you to match their motivations with products and service right for their particular experience. The magic of service comes when teams are equipped at all levels with a thorough understanding of procedures, products and expected levels of behaviour, which together will meet and hopefully exceed the customers’ expectations.” - Mark Maltby, programme director of World Class Customer Service at The National Skills Academy for Hospitality.
“I think delivering great customer service comes down to having a great team. Great hospitality comes from great hospitality people. Therefore don’t be afraid to hire people with limited experience. If they have the right attitude and genuinely believe in delivering great hospitality, then you can train them the rest. But you cant train them to enjoy looking after people.” – Sam Harrison, owner of Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison’s in Balham.
“I think people have to be tidy, well presented and proud of what they’re doing. Ad if that’s the attitude they take them the skill factors we can teach them.” – Brian Turner, celebrity chef.
“You must have joie de vivre and enjoy people. If you cant enjoy people or share with people, and if you give everyone the same bland welcome it’s just not going to work. Engage in eye contact and smile with others - it’s very simple yet very few people do it.” - Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows.
“Prioritise. You can draw a pyramid of service priorities, at the top of which is greeting the customer, getting them an aperitif and menu, and getting their bill at the end of the meal. All other elements fall somewhere beneath these three top priorities, and a good waitress will constantly juggle the tasks required in order to keep service running smoothly. If you're incredibly busy and in over your head, fight the instinct to just go faster and faster. Stop in the middle of your section, take a deep breath, look around your tables to check yourself, then move on - with a clearer mindset.” - Tom Peake, founder and director of Renaissance Pubs.
“Constantly train and motivate your staff in all aspects of the business and to think like sales people. Ensure they believe in the product they are selling and that they are proud to be working for the company. Ensure they try all of the products they are selling so they taste and understand them. Encourage and reward your staff through incentive schemes and trips to small producers and farms, butchers, Billingsgate Market, wineries, distillers and brewers.” - Tom Martin, founder of ETM Group.
Trust and empowering your team is essential for them to bring their own personality and attributes to work to enhance their enjoyment at work and in turn deliver excellent service with confidence. This ensures the customer has an experience beyond the normal ‘tick box’ process service which can deliver a false experience and not create a lasting memory with your guest.” - Mark Maltby, programme director of World Class Customer Service at The National Skills Academy for Hospitality.
It’s all down to personality. If you’ve got the right personality for a certain role your passion will come out and shine. Knowing your product and delivering that knowledge in a nice and inviting manner is also vital. We’re all in sales at the end of the day.” – Scott Malaugh, owner, the Fox & Anchor.
“It’s down to the customer as to what constitutes good service. Not understanding your guests needs and misreading their needs is the most common mistake made in the dining room. You must make sure they’re comfortable and have everything they need to enjoy themselves.” – Tristan Welch, chef proprietor Launceston Place.