A large group in Boston for a trade show visits a local restaurant for dinner. Clients, customers and vendors all savor a respite from the day’s scheduled events with a dinner of shared stories, networking potential and a relaxed drink or three.
The waiter overhears a gentleman at the table commenting on a particular wine consumed that evening. The guest was saying how much he had enjoyed it, and lamented that he could not recall the region or vintage. And with the table finishing several bottles, the wine that piqued his palette was long gone.
But the waiter remembers, and after hearing this exchange, he returns at the end of the meal with a souvenir card laminated with the wine label in question. He hands it to the gentleman as a keepsake.
The actions of his skilled, engaged waiter ensured that the customer—and everyone else at the table—would never forget the experience at the restaurant. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the food.
That’s a true story, and it illustrates a commitment to customer service that more restaurants should emulate. To truly stand out in today’s marketplace, you have to do more than offer a product or service. You must create an experience, one that will resonate with customers.
Don’t just serve, impress. Don’t just deliver, elevate. Make the guests’ time interacting with you something they cannot forget.
It need not require a large monetary investment from your business. As in the above example of the waiter and the wine label, all it cost the restaurant was some cards and a laminating machine, plus some employee training. By encouraging the waiter to be an active part in his table’s event, the restaurant created something magical that every guest noticed.
What can your operation do to craft an experience that will resonate with guests? Think about your brand and brainstorm on ways you may be able to step up your service or offering to stand out.
A CHICAGO CROWD SCENE
The Purple Pig epitomizes the important of crafting a worthwhile experience with more than just a menu. The always-crowded Chicago operator tantalizes with “cheese, wine and swine.”
The Purple Pig boasts an eclectic ensemble of small plates, Mediterranean flavors and an impressive wine list. People line the front window and narrow walkways of this small restaurant, waiting for an open seat.
Inside the atmosphere screams “social,” with a mix of long, high shared tables and more intimate low tables. The environment perfectly suits the small plates, inviting everyone to sample the tasty fare.
The waitstaff knows their stuff, and are at the ready with the backstory of a menu selection, encouragement to try something new or a wine-pairing suggestion that satisfies either the novice or the expert. This is unassuming, unpretentious dining.
What makes the experience special is the Purple Pig’s casual, leisurely approach. No one from the staff pressures diners to wrap it up to turn tables faster. Courteous servers deftly maneuver around waiting guests, offering a drink or friendly word.
In a crowded, popular place like this, the opposite is often too true. But the Purple Pig embraces the environment and creates a unique experience of shared dining as a social and sociable event.
Give it some thought. There are most likely several opportunities for you to turn your uniqueness to your advantage, with memorable moments and unforgettable experiences for your customers. ·
Matthew Fey is senior creative strategist at J. Schmid & Associates, a Misson, KS-based marketing consultancy.