Article contributed by David “Rev” Ciancio
On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being of the utmost importance, how important is good hospitality and quality service to your brand?
If we took a poll of every restaurant operator in the country, no matter if they are an independent, local mom and pop restaurant, a group with multiple concepts or a large multi-unit chain, and asked them, likely they (and you) would all say it’s a “10.” This is the hospitality and food service business. These words are in our description. It is the heart, the essence, the center of what we do, and beyond.
If a guest walked through your door and sat down to have a meal, what would you do before you handed them the bill? You would ask them politely, “how was everything?” If they said something positive or enthusiastic, you would kindly thank them, smile and hand them the check presenter.
However, if they replied with “my food was cold,” “you forgot the dressing,” or “the bathrooms are only slightly cleaner than a Grand Central latrine in the late 70s,” what would you do or what would your team be instructed to do? They would apologize and try to do a win back or make good on the spot. Perhaps a free dessert, a shot of alcohol or a voucher for a free meal. You would handle the problem in real time.
Because this is the hospitality business and you said that good service is of the utmost importance to your brand… Right? When was the last time you responded to a guest who left you a 1-star review on Yelp? Your brand posted content on Instagram today promoting your latest limited time offer, but did they check the direct messages on the account and respond to all the guests? For the rare person who filled out the 52 question survey that’s on the bottom of your receipts, did you read it and respond to them?
When a guest has a great experience with your brand, whether it’s in your dining room, after picking up a meal or ordering via a third-party delivery service and then leaves you feedback on Yelp, Twitter or that 52 question survey, you should respond! That’s just good customer service.
If the same customer gave you positive feedback on premises, you would say thank you and you would handle the issue if it was negative. It’s time to extend that same level of hospitality to all your guests in all the channels that you have open to communicate with them.
It’s not just good customer service to reply to your guests online, but guaranteed your competition is doing it and those guests are feeling the love. They are probably also ordering with higher frequency, leaving positive feedback and sharing about their experience on social media … all things you wish all your guests would do for you.
“But Rev … we have so many locations, it would be an insurmountable task.” I hear you. That’s why you need the right tools. Tools that empower your franchisees, area managers or someone locally, on-site who can take on these off-premises hospitality operations as if they were on-premises. Look for tools that empower your locations to be able to interact with your guests online.
You also need constant training of these individuals to empower them to do the right thing, the brand way and make the guests feel that perfect “10” you would promise them. Corporate should own the initiative and be in constant communication with the locations to help them understand best practices with brand guidelines.
So what is hospitality in 2021 and beyond? Extending the same quality of service you would give in store, online and anywhere else your customer is engaging with your brand is of the utmost importance. It only sounds difficult because you don’t have the right plan.
I recently interviewed Julie Wade, Senior Director Of Marketing at Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe (92 locations), about how they successfully market at the local level and she revealed some incredible secrets of how they empower omni-channel communications with their guests through the empowerment of local brand representatives.
Check out the entire interview, at https://bit.ly/3vUVEPh, it’s a 30 minute master class in marketing.
David “Rev” Ciancio is a former New York City bar owner and knows exactly how hard it is to operate and brand a hospitality business.
He is now a hospitality marketing consultant, customer and technology evangelist with more than 20 years experience in B2B digital marketing and business development, specializing in hospitality marketing, content, local SEO, reputation management and influencer marketing. He helps technology companies, brands and restaurants to acquire and retain customers. Rev is known as an “expert burger taster,” pens hospitality and marketing tips on his Instagram @revciancio, as well as his LinkedIn Profile. He believes that Pizza is a religion. Learn more at https://bit.ly/followersorders