This WSJ article, “How Waiters Read Your Table” scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed today, and I couldn’t wait to read it.
As a former waitress and restaurant manager, I am fascinated by the psychology behind customer service. I was often at odds with how my restaurant trained our employees to provide service to our guests. In my early days with the restaurant, we were taught to hit upon certain service standards, but to otherwise simply take care of the guest. I kept this philosophy throughout my serving and managing career–figure out what the guests’ needs are, and take care of them. No two guests are alike, and each diner goes out to eat with a different experience in mind. It’s up to the server to quickly figure this out and adapt their service accordingly. I know I was a good server and, later, a good manager–I had regulars, I solved problems, I made great tips, I had a lot of fun with my guests. Towards the end of my time with that restaurant, however, the company’s philosophy towards service had swung wildly to the other end of the spectrum. We were expected to cram so much information into our “spiel” at the table that we sounded like robots. I had no personality left–I might have been just as effective hanging a sign around my neck and having the guests read it instead. I actually ended up dreading going to work each day, truly hating my job. The whole thing made me sad, really, since I still had a soft spot in my heart for a company that generally treated me really well personally and as an employee, and that took a chance on a young girl right out of college and trained her to be a manager. Still, I did my job and trained our new employees to recite the same spiel, but when all was said and done, when they looked totally overwhelmed and crammed full of information I’d tell them, “Just take care of your guests! Be kind and attentive. Treat them like you would if they were guests in your own home. Yes, keep those service standards in mind but, bottom line, be good to your guests.” I respected my company’s way of doing business, but I just couldn’t take all of the heart out of the job.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. You can see why I was happy to see this article, which talks about this same shift towards more personalized service. It also gives a good insight into the art of serving (yes, I would call it an art!) from the industry’s side.
Then, I read ahead into the comments. Boy, what a hot-button issue! There are servers and diners weighing in on all aspects of dining out. People are very opinionated when it comes to the type of service they desire when going out to eat. What seems to be missing, however, is commentary on dining out with children. This issue was only touched upon in the article and, as of yet, no one has chimed in about this for the comment section. So, I ask all you mommas out there:
What types of restaurants do you like to eat out at with your family? Are take-outs and drive-thrus the easiest options, or are sit-down or even fine dining restaurants a possibility?
Who provides excellent customer service for you and your kids? What are your favorite kid-friendly CT restaurants?
What do you appreciate when eating out as a family, in regards to customer service?
Do you have helpful dining-out tips and tricks to share with other parents?