Staff Initiative and the Customer Experience

Creating the ideal atmosphere for a customer is one of the challenges faced by staff working in hospitality venues; especially multifunction venues that attract a diverse demographic of customer. The opinion of what makes for a suitable ambience will vary from customer to customer, it is up to the venue manager to determine what best suits their venue and clientele but there is always room for movement when a situation arises that requires a different approach.

We teach ‘standard rules’ to staff to give them the platform in which they can create the ideal surroundings for customers to enjoy their time in your venue. These ‘standard rules’ generally relate to the lighting, heating and music levels but in some venues, namely restaurants and gastro-pubs, also extend to the seating of customers.

Considerations When Seating Customers:

  1. Always place the early customers by the window/front of the building so that passers by see people eating in your venue and (hopefully) come in to eat.
  2.  Seat customers in close proximity to one another to create a more vibrant & social atmosphere in the venue.

These are both valuable considerations in improving the customer experience and for the ambience in the venue but sometimes staff need to use their initiative and stray from standard rules to suit the differing requirements of their customers.

Pleasant Meal Ruined By Surroundings

On a recent trip to a gastro-pub for a late meal with friends, our waitress followed standard procedure of seating us in an area where other diners were sat.  Four raucous businessmen, polar opposites of our trio, filled the table adjacent to us as we sat down hoping for a quiet meal.  Much to our own fault for not asking to move tables, as well as the fault of the waitress for not identifying our requirements, we had an awful experience and what should have been a pleasant meal was ruined by the surroundings we found ourselves in.  As a group we would have much rather sat out in a deserted quite area of the restaurant to enjoy our meal.  Our waitress should have been able to read the situation, consider our requirements and rather than just follow the ‘standard rules’, she could have used her initiative to seat us somewhere we would have enjoyed our evening.

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet)

Not much in hospitality is black and white, especially when working in multi-functional venues and dealing with customers that are now demanding more from the experience of going out. As important as it is to teach staff the ‘standard rules’ of the venue and work to set procedures, we must also teach our staff to use their common sense, encouraging them to adapt the rules to optimise the customers experience – within reason of course. ;)

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