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The Psychology of Great Service
Published on January 4, 2017
★Conor Kenny
Hotel Industry Specialist, Author, Writer, Workshop Leader. Founder

Recently I gave a Workshop in Southern Ireland. One of the participants was a military man. He is a gentleman, and a gentleman of few words but his words are very wise. Bobby was listening to a debate on ‘service’ He listened intently and he observed. The debate ebbed and flowed then Bobby spoke…”Service is an attitude. You either have it or you don’t” … Certainly food for thought and, in my book, Amen!

You can teach service, you can make people understand service but they must meet you half way too. In my career ‘in service’ I have seen every side so, I started with a brief to write 10 Commandments but at 14 I felt I should stop, either that or invent a new religion!

1. Service is not tangible it’s a 'feeling' It is created by staff who are led by managers, who in turn work for the owners. All are responsible for setting the mood, tone and atmosphere that creates the atmosphere, culture and mood. Is that you?

2. Passion for service is imperative, not desirable. If you have not got the passion you are missing the key to success. Marry this with knowledge and experience and profit will follow. If your sole mission is profit, prepare to fail

3. The Relationship between the customer and the kitchen is nurtured by the service staff, nobody else. Listen to what your customers want and they will come running again and again and again.

4. Check out your competitors and be self critical, true and honest. How often have you asked your staff to become guests? How often have you sent your staff out to sample the competition?

5. Be Realistic about what you and your staff are able to achieve. Set targets that can be reached, then set the bar higher. Measure everything. Remember, not every kitchen has a charismatic TV star.

6. The Staff are your front line and you can’t force a smile, take care of the troops, mind them, nurture them and develop them. There is not a lot wrong with that old service cliché…’treat me as you would wish to be treated’ a useful and revealing compass.

7. Instil Confidence and pride in the workplace. This is a career not a job. In fact, it is a vocation. If it’s not for you, look elsewhere. If you don’t, it will show. Remember, our eyes are constantly scanning. Just like a good and efficient radar…we see everything!

8. The Managers place is on the front line with the staff, not in the office. Lead from the front, not the rear. Arrogance has no place in service. As Sydney J Harris once said … “Nobody can be as amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own.”

9. Standards are important. Set your standards and train to that standard (not your competitors!) Then, take a leaf out of Henry Ford’s book. He said “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking”

10. Communication is a two way street. Look and listen with your eyes and ears. Read people by their body language and facial expressions. Judge the mood and respond accordingly. Isn’t it great when guests say...”He knows what I like!”

11. Know your Customers by name and use them. Building local custom is your bread and butter before you go national, international, or even become a destination.

12. Don’t be Afraid to ask for help. Experience can be purchased.

13.The Celtic Tiger came free but its children are high maintenance, knowledgeable on food, sharp on wine and expect better everything including, value, choice, understanding, knowledge and, Oh Yes, service!

14. Train to get fitter, faster and more efficient. After all, every success story works hard, every day, at getting the basics right. Budget, build and be better through training.

Great service that is one percent better than your competitors will give you more than 50% of their market too. If you are to succeed in a tough market, you know what to do? Make your ten commandments into 14 Golden rules!

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