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We have all experienced poor customer service in our time, and often decided to punish the business we encountered it in by never returning. Most times we are ‘satisfied’ when it comes to our experience—nothing went terribly wrong, but nothing really stood out, either. Running a business that merely satisfies guests is not enough. Sooner or later multiple players will set up in your area and delight your customers, and you may never see them in your venue again.

The most difficult thing to do in the hospitality industry is to deliver remarkable guest experiences with consistency over a sustained period.

Service is what you do for someone. Hospitality is an intimate exchange between a group of people. A two-way interaction that delivers an experience built on emotions and connection that all humans crave, yet all too often fail to experience. Operators who master the art of achieving this regularly and consistently will dominate the marketplace.

But if only things were that easy. Let’s start with why it’s so hard:

  1. The responsibility for creating this experience falls to bartenders, servers, hosts, etc. – service industry employees are typically transient and are offered no training in this area.
  2. Most 20-something bartenders/servers are not particularly comfortable socially engaging 45-year-old guests, let alone excited about the idea of being responsible for their entire experience.
  3. Front of house staff are asked to do this while also a taking on a physically demanding job and serving hundreds of customers.

So, what sets the winners apart? The framework for designing a system to consistently deliver remarkable service to guests has three primary components:

1. A clearly defined brand promise (i.e. who are you, who do you serve, and why?)

Your brand is the promise you make to your customers as to what they can expect from your business.

2. A robust service strategy that supports and delivers your brand promises.

The best service strategies focus on the feelings and emotions you can deliver for your customers.

3. A measurement program that constantly tracks results related to the promises.

A great source is to ask your customers, “Why do you come here?”.

Listen for answers that describe how they feel or emotions they experience.

You might hear:

● Feels like home.

● I can kick back and relax.

● The staff is very attentive.

● The place has a great vibe.

What specific promises you can make to your customers? Promises can be spoken or unspoken.

● Do you promise affordability?

● Sophistication?

● Authenticity?

NOTE: Once this system is designed, you can then hire staff who have the best chance of success inside the system. Interviews for front of house staff should be centralized on the service strategy and core values of the organization.

Design a Culture that Consistently Delivers Your Brand

Almost anyone with a commercial kitchen and a cool bar setup can deliver decent food and cocktails.

The only thing left that allows you to stand out in the crowd is your “brand”, your business and your service.

Once you’ve figured out what makes you unique and decided on the promises you’re committed to, you can begin creating a branded service culture.



Check out our bitesize session from Tim Philips-Johansson and Anna Sebastian.

Where they share their top tips on how to best amplify the experience for your guest.

Steps to a Remarkable Service Strategy


Host Stand:

● Create a database to track guest history including order preferences, events attended and guest names. Servers can use this information to make guests feel special on arrival.

● Ask guests if they have dined with you before and make note of first-timers. Place a small signal on the table (different colored flower or menu) that identifies them. Train staff to make an effort to introduce themselves/make a fuss over them.

● Provide snacks and small cocktails for waiting guests. This will boost appetizer and cocktail purchases.


● Have security take care of guests leaving who need transport. Use their mobile phones to call taxis (or even shout them a taxi if not too far!)


● Name all your tabs with coinciding seat numbers. This allows the bartenders to get on a first-name basis to make it truly a place where everyone knows your name!

● Take home cocktail recipe cards – have branded cards on hand for bartenders to write cocktail recipes on and give to their customers so they can make their favorite cocktails at home.

If this sounds like a bit of work, it is! But it’s the price of greatness—and whatever you invest up-front, you get back ten-fold on the back end in saved time dealing with unhappy customers. You’ll also see these benefits:

Increased revenue due to improvements – more customers, who stay longer, buy more and refer new business.

Increased staff productivity (happier, more engaged employees)

Reduced turnover (happy employees stay longer)

Reduced customer complaints (staff is empowered to make service recovery decisions)

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