Are Italian standards of service better than the UK?
I was in Sorrento in Italy recently, and was both impressed and inspired by the level of service that I experienced in the hotel each and every night that I dined in their restaurant.
Firstly, the food was superb (the product got my attention) but the thing that really struck me was how good the Restaurant Manager Nino was.
This man was a genius at his art.
It was one of those incredibly pleasant (but all too rare) occasions when the standard was far higher than the norm, when it was higher than I was expecting and it got my attention and STOOD OUT in my mind.
I noticed a number of specific things that made my experience truly sensational (and everyone elses who ate in the restaurant each night)
- The acknowledgement of every guest when they walked into the restaurant with a “Buona Sera” (Good Evening)
- Being incredibly observant of what was going on in the restaurant as the guests ate their meals. Had people finished the food? Were they talking to each other?, Did they like the food? Did they need anything?
- They were always looking for feedback to enable them to validate that the guest’s were happy or to discover what they could improve upon
- Nino and his team were always smiling, warm, unobtrusive and unpretentious.
- All staff engaged with guests. They would ask me what I had done that day, how things had been and were genuinely interested in me. It really did show that they cared for me.
- They were consistent in acknowledging me and the other guests when we left, with a friendly “Good Night. We look forward to welcoming you again”
I had the pleasure of talking with Nino one evening. I asked him what inspired and motivated him.
He said it is not so much about the money; it is about making sure his guests have a great time and tell their friends, colleagues and relatives about him and his restaurant, so that they visit as well.
Common sense but not common practice – The focus and attention for what Nino and his team are actively doing is what brings customers back, creates repeat customers and ultimately, good old fashioned profitability!
“When you invest in creating regular repeat customers, the business is more stable, predictable and profitable” ~ Marcus Kilvington
Let us remind ourselves of what industry we are in, the principle aim of our work and the meaning of the words “Catering & Hospitality”:
Catering – To provide people with food and drink
Hospitality – The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers
If these two words and their meaning were a legal requirement to uphold as a commitment to our industry, I’ll guess that you like me would have NO problem at all in writing a list as long as our arm, of food businesses who are operating illegally. Agree?
That said, I’m pleased to say that we CAN find restaurants, pubs, cafe’s, fast food takeaways and caterers alike here in the UK delivering outstanding customer service and experience but sadly they are the minority rather than the majority.
The most committed and proactive ones represent the top 5% (1% outstandingly profitable, 4% highly profitable) as a result of their focus, not on the money but on the customer service and experience. The remaining 95% are either doing ok, struggling or going bust.
If you’ve followed me for some time, you’ll have heard me say it many times before but I’ll say it again because it’s important…
What it all boils down to is – How you make people FEEL!
Be absolutely honest (with yourself) and ask – What is the standard of customer service and experience like in MY business?
What can you do to make it EVEN BETTER?
Always remember that one of the strongest (if not the strongest human need) is to FEEL CARED FOR, so make sure you include it in every experience you create for your customers.
I’ll leave you with these words from my very good friend Anne Blackburn, owner of the Sidona Group who uses a very powerful mantra when considering the aim and intention for a memorable customer experience that will get customers to return time and time again…
“Invite them to arrive as a guest, leave as a friend and to return as family”
If you found this useful, please click LIKE below, leave a COMMENT and SHARE with others that might appreciate and benefit from it too.