How do you like your pizza?

On time, hot, and as expected!

That’s how I like my Pizza.  On time, hot, and as expected.  Of lessor importance is what’s on it, if it is thick crust, thin crust, Chicago style, New York, whatever…  Pizza can be a very personal thing – we all like it different.  Have you ever tried to decide what to get on the pizza with three kids who all have different preferences?  Now that it’s just me and my wife at home it’s definitely easier to reach consensus but really, when you get right down to it, all I want on Friday evenings, when we typically order a pizza for delivery, is that it is delivered on time, hot, and as expected.

Consistently good results that meet one’s expectations is a key ingredient in a good customer experience.  Although I have a plethora of choices, on Friday evenings when  I order pizza I do so from the business that is able to consistently create that great experience for me.   It begins with my call to Bruno’s Italian Restaurant when Jessica answers the phone (within three rings).  I can tell it’s busy in the restaurant by the background noise of people’s voices, phones ringing, and the clatter of glasses and plates.  Jessica is in the thick of it at the front of the house.  She is not only answering phones for take-out and pick-up orders but also greeting customers as the arrive and making sure they get noticed and acknowledged immediately upon entering the restaurant (which is typically bustling with customers delighted by the aroma of delicious Italian food).   Jessica is a young adult and my instincts tell me that this may be her first or second job and that she has no formal training in Customer Service or restaurant experience.  But you know what – Jessica “get’s it”.  She’s a natural and she was a great hire for Bruno’s.

Upon calling or entering the restaurant Jessica is the face and voice of the company . I  don’t think she realizes this because she just does her thing instinctively.  But you know what?  I bet her boss does.  As a customer and as a service advocate I certainly do.  What a difference it makes.  As the old adage goes, “you get one chance to make a first impression”.  Jessica nails it.  And for repeat customers like me I’ve come to expect great service from the moment the phone is answered (within three rings) or that I walk in the door.  So kudos not only to Jessica but to the owner who is savvy enough to know that Jessica is a key asset to his business and makes sure that she at the front of the house.

So what’s the big deal?  It’s just Pizza right?  Wrong!  Sure, Bruno’s has great food that’s reasonably priced.  And Bruno’s is a great venue for families, for a date, or for a group party or family celebration.  But the big deal is – and Bruno’s get’s this – Bruno’s has created a culture of service and excellence the begins with, in this case, Jessica answering your call (within three rings) or greeting you as you arrive.

You can get great food anywhere.  But of you aren’t acknowledged when you walk in or your dining experience begins badly you probably won’t go back.

Here is the lesson for local restaurant owners: pay attention to the front of the house and hire for attitude. Recognize that the employees in the front of the house are  as important as your head chef.  Seriously!  If the person you are considering hiring for Greeter (or Host or whatever you choose to call them) cannot immediately enhance your customer’s experience take a pass and keep looking because you get one chance to create a great first impression and to create repeat customers.  Consistently good experiences for your repeat customers creates loyalty which leads to advocacy (as evidenced by my blatant plug in this post for Bruno’s Italian Restaurant in Livermore, CA).

So Mr. or Mrs. Business Owner,   I think I just described the path to a better chance of a more reliable revenue stream for you.  Just in case you’re interested in being profitable and staying in business…

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