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As a lifelong student of all things business, I love to look for lessons in my everyday commerce-related interactions.
After reading Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara and getting inspired by the transferable lessons in top-tier customer service, I wanted to take it one step further and see the book in action by going to the famed restaurant it’s about: Eleven Madison Park.
It was really fun to have such an imaginative dining experience while also paying attention to the staff and noticing the unspoken things I could pick up on having read the book.01:53
Here are a few lessons my visit brought to light that can pertain to your business:
1. Don’t be afraid to zig where your competitors zag.
It could be a competitive advantage. This restaurant was the world’s first all-plant-based 3-Michelin-starred establishment. The amount of media attention they got from that alone was priceless.
2. Customer service alone won’t likely be the reason people do business with you.
Your core service/product needs to shine and also stand on its own. Memorable service is the icing on the cake.
3. What can your business do to leave people with positive stories that will become a memory they’ll cherish and share?
So are you stumped on ideas for creating a memorable experience for your customers? If so ask your sales team. They’ll have lots of ideas, you just need to guide them and set some ground rules. If possible set up a brainstorming session. Let your team know that ALL ideas are welcome as long as they don’t cost the company additional money. Keep them focused by looking at every “moment of truth” that a customer experiences. For example telephone greeting, call transfer, wait time, email follow up and so on. Then stand back and let the ideas flow. You’ll be amazed at the suggestions that will come forth.
4. Hire for potential, not necessarily experience.
For example, we met a maitre d’ who was previously a graphic designer with no hospitality experience. She was phenomenal.
5. Value is subjective.
When you price out the cost per course of this tasting menu, you clutch your pearls. But when you zoom out the lens to think about the value of the experience, it feels like a no-brainer. How do you apply this to your pricing strategy and create a full experience for your clients where they don’t question the value of paying you?
6. Build a high-functioning team.
Going into the staff’s kitchen and seeing the order, cohesion, teamwork, respect, and pride in their craft was mesmerizing. That doesn’t happen by accident. Invest time, energy, and resources into this consistently.
7. Keep your values front and center.
This was literally a sign at the entrance to the kitchen, so everyone is reminded of it. It’s clear those values are also embedded in every fiber of the establishment, not just a list of adjectives that are created in a strategy session and forgotten.
Are any of these lessons worth bringing to your business?
You can’t move what you don’t measure
A strong customer service culture isn’t measured internally, it’s measured and promoted by your customers. How are you measuring your service culture and the new customer service ideas you’ve put into practice? We can provide that insight in order to help your team improve service levels and your business. We’re here to help and would love to partner with you.
BY DARRAH BRUSTEIN AND CARL PHILLIPS