Restaurants are one of the few truly universal industries because almost everyone has familiarity with them.
From a customer service perspective, this makes restaurant customer service particularly challenging because almost every customer has both established service expectations and well-formed service triggers.
Those expectations are often pegged to price or to impressions created by the physical environment.
In many cases, expectations are derived from the industry segment. We don’t expect the same service from Burger King as we do from Spago. A quick service restaurant (fast food) is obviously expected to be a completely different experience from a fine dining restaurant.
Where the industry gets tricky is that the segments are not always clearly defined, particularly in the mind of the consumer. Major brands are easiest to peg. Burger King is fast food. Panera is fast casual. Morton’s is fine dining.
But what about the family-owned Italian corner restaurant? Or the hip, modern downtown restaurant/bar? Or the eclectic American ten table restaurant? The lines are not always clear.
Add to that the standard individualized expectations that occur in all customer service scenarios — how fast should fast food be, just how casual is fast casual — and you can quickly see the challenges of the industry, challenges which have been exacerbated by a host of reality shows dedicated to chefs and restaurants that have turned millions of ordinary consumers into amateur restaurant critics. Read more