There’s a hot dog restaurant in South Florida that is well-known for its fantastic food and ambiance. Right when you walk in, you are immersed into an environment that has a rock music atmosphere and the food truly is phenomenal. The menu is huge, the kitchen is usually very fast, and it’s very good quality meat. Also, the staff is clearly comprised of genuinely nice human beings. It’s pretty cool.
I hate this place. I hated it the first time I went, and I went back the very next day to see if it was a fluke. I hated it again. This restaurant has some of the worst service I have ever seen in my life. Despite the fantastic ambiance, quick delivery time of food, wide variety of options, delicious food, I don’t think I will ever go back there.
How could this happen? Like I mentioned, the staff there is incredibly nice. They’re nice. They are genuinely good people. But they lack the fundamental knowledge of providing a seamless and enjoyable guest experience. From the time that you walk in to the time that you leave you see a chaotic disorganized mess of staff members running around in stained t-shirts trying to figure out how to seat you regardless of your party size, a quick “what do you want” order-taking process and a lack of communication with the kitchen. My order has been wrong every time I’ve eaten there. Most recently, when flagging down the server (after several minutes of no follow-up) and telling him what it was supposed to be and what is was, he gave me a deer in the headlights look and a shoulder shrug. It wasn’t even worth pursuing getting the right meal and I told him not to worry about. Also, if they’re out of something, they won’t tell you, they’ll just bring you something else and hope you won’t notice.
Being a genuinely nice person is the foundation, or the seed that goes into a positive guest experience. But being nice does not translate to positive service. It does not guarantee that the staff will anticipate needs, present themselves properly, and display the proper control when challenged with a difficult situation. Also, training your staff to “be nice” and to “exceed expectations” are abstract instructions without any practical substance. Clearly, as proven in the example I just presented, being nice does not mean that an individual is born with a service standard. Outstanding service providers are made, not born.
Staff members must be indoctrinated into the service standard beginning on day one. This includes the emphasis in new hire orientations, and built into employee manuals that teach the staff how they can over-deliver in an environment where the expectation has been set high. They must be taught the ways, the specific methods for delivering experiences and exceeding guests’ expectations. If they are not aware of the importance that the guest experience has on the business, they will not be able to meet the expectation that you have for them; in turn they will have more difficulty meeting (and therefore exceeding) the expectation of your guests.
Josh Liebman specializes in guest experience within attractions, tourism, and hospitality, including service standards, complaint resolution, and driving guest loyalty. Josh is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster, consultant, and speaker. Josh has worked for some of the top attraction operators in the world, including, but not limited to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Merlin Entertainments, and Cedar Fair. Josh has been integral to the openings of multiple attractions in various leadership capacities. Additionally, Josh has consulted for many of the world’s leading hospitality brands, including Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria, and many more. Josh is Co-Host of the AttractionPros Podcast, which brings the audience into the room with the top leaders, executives, and influencers in the attractions industry.