Monday, August 03, 2009

Anticipating Equals Quality Service

Hello everyone,

“Anticipation,” Webster defines it as “realizing before hand, to foresee.”

I continue to be intrigued by our perception of quality service. We all have very different ideas of acceptable quality standards and each establishment believes that they are doing their best in the food and beverage industry to deliver quality service by quality oriented service professionals.

As an industry insider, I share insights in this blog that I have gained over the past 30 years in the food and beverage industry. Let me begin with a confession, I am very passionate about service quality. Today my passion is stirred by the sound of Carly Simon singing her classic song “Anticipation.”

In the service industry, I believe this one word to be a key characteristic which truly defines outstanding service.

The very best in the hospitality industry train their staff to “anticipate” their guests’ wants and needs; consistently checking with guests within minutes of delivering a meal to ensure everything is to their liking; filling the half full glass or simply opening a door are basic examples of “anticipating” what the customer would appreciate.

With one of my previous employers, the Ritz-Carlton, those standards are expected. But The Ritz does not have a patent or copyright on “anticipation.” I have witnessed excellent service, anticipating the customer’s needs, at road side diners, pubs and catered events. I have also seen a total lack of "anticipation" at many establishments, including fine dining venues and expensive resorts.

I am convinced that service expectations, service standards and the ability to “anticipate” are created and nurtured by the establishment's management team. Or, they are not. The service standards offered at any business are a direct reflection on a manager’s ability and desire to incorporate those standards.

As soon as any individual in hospitality, no matter their position, understands that anticipating the guests’ needs is the foundation for providing quality service, as soon as they incorporate this characteristic into their daily service, then these individuals can be considered customer service professionals.

It is the responsibility of management and owners to establish this standard. May I suggest that every hotel, restaurant, winery and caterer place a large sign in the back-of-house for employee's to view throughout their workday. This sign would have only one word printed on it. . . “Anticipate.”

So, the next time you have to flag down a server because your meal is served incorrectly, you have to ask for a refill of your drink or a clean fork, ask yourself, “What did I anticipate when I entered the front door?” Did your expectations become a reality? Did the hospitality team anticipate your needs and wants and how well did they do?

And by the way, when you entered, did someone open the door and say “Welcome, thank you for stopping by.”

A future blog will consider the importance of a genuine “Welcome.”

Thank you very much for your time and have a great day.

David B. Jones


Creating Quality Service