Giving Guests a Reason to Return

I recently met with one of my favorite purveyors of fine customer guest service. She works for a food-service client of Mindshare Technologies (now Costa Vida.

When I stumbled upon this blog, I felt pretty certain that I had less experience in providing amazing guest service and more experience in shoes, being that I own more than 300 pairs (more red soles than red Converse—ladies, can I get shout out to the man, Louboutin!).

At the end of the day, if a lousy sales person at Nordstrom sells me a great pair of shoes, are they still as great? Not in my experience. Every time I wear them, I will remember how I was treated—and that’s no good! So, without further ado—and with a format borrowed from one of the greatest ever, David Letterman:


10. Smile Sincerely... or... Sincerely Smile. Really, is it all that much to ask? Smile when you listen, smile when you speak, smile when you’re on the phone, smile when you write emails—it will shine through the message you are conveying. If you mean it, your guests will feel it. If you’re fake, they will feel that too. I’ve smiled my way out of plenty of catastrophes. As a cocktail waitress, I spilled many drinks (whoops!) on my poor guests—yes, on them—and still got a tip because I smiled my way through it.

9. Take good care of people, and they will take care of you. As a bartender (five+ years ago), I had these great attorneys that came in every Tuesday for lunch—Christopher and Candace (yes, I can still recite their lunch order five years later). I knew their names, knew their orders and made them laugh—and I was fast, so they could get in and get their lunch within the time allotted by their busy schedules.

When I got in a car accident and the “victim” sued me (my lawyer was out of the country—ugh! When it rains, it pours!), Candace and Christopher took the case (without me asking), had the entire mess taken care of, and I had to do NOTHING. I didn’t have to show up in court, didn’t even have to sign anything; I did nothing. Oh, and they did not charge me a cent and insisted I not pay them when I was begging to. Pretty amazing, eh?

8. What’s in a name? EVERYTHING. Remember people’s names. Say and spell them correctly. No more. No less.

7. Go the extra mile. Not the mile—that is what you are expected to do. The extra mile requires a little more effort. Be willing to put in effort to take care of those that pay your bills and your salary. Earn your keep and get yourself a raise when they return to see you time and time again.

6. Are you interested... or committed? If you are interested in providing good service, you will give it sporadically throughout the day or week. If you are committed, you will provide every Guest with incredible service and an experience to remember that is told to family members and friends. Commit to providing exceptional service. Every Guest. Every day. Every week.

5. Love. Love what you do, and love your people (your team and your guests). Find people that love what they do, so that they will love your guests, too. It doesn’t hurt to take care of the people who love your guests, either.

4. Be honest. Don’t swindle your guests. If something costs extra, tell them. Nobody likes to feel like they were taken for a ride.

3. Speaking of which: Empathize with those that you serve. Like your mom told you when you were a kid: Treat people how you want to be treated.

2. They are guests—not customers. When I have people over to my home, they are guests. When I have people in my restaurants, they, too, are guests. That is my story, and I’m sticking to it.

1. The choice is yours. You decide how you treat people—and nobody can take that away from you. Choose wisely.