Creating and Keeping a Culture of Service


Culture of Service

How do you create a culture of service? I took my son to lunch yesterday at a local place known for excellent service, with the goal in mind of learning what it is that makes this place so special.

Many times, a good experience does not equal a remarkable one. In some cases, it may even take a bad experience made right for a great service culture to shine through. So my mission was to find out why this particular location has guests buzzing about service.
These are the “little things” I noticed during our visit:

  • A kitchen employee was leaving when we got there, he stopped and asked how we were in the parking lot. (Off the clock!)
  • Three employees were at the host stand, all of them made eye contact, smiled, and said hello. Our host was upbeat and pleasant, and gave the impression he was happy to see us.
  • We passed a busboy on our way to the table who smiled and said, “Enjoy your meal.”
  • Overall, our server made eye contact, smiled, and was pleasant and polite through our entire visit. He was kind and unquestioning to my son, who is quite picky with his food. He was attentive throughout (even after the check was paid, which is often when service goes flat), and never interrupted the conversation at the table. At one point, he managed to refill drinks without my notice.
  • Management greets every guest during their visit to ensure a pleasant experience.
  • At one point, the sun was streaming through a window onto a nearby table, and the shades were drawn immediately, before the guest said a word.
  • Everything was quick and efficient, but without rushing us away to turn the table.

My major impression of the visit was that this place has service built into its very core. This is a family-style Mexican cafe, but with 5 star service. What struck me was that even the employees who don’t typically face customers are clearly given some kind of service training.

I know that service is built into their culture, but I do not yet know how. (I am on another mission to find out.) In the meantime, I’d like to hear our readers’ thoughts on creating a culture of service. How do you do it? Does it reach all the way from management to back of house staff?

Check out these videos from Ritz-Carlton on “The Art of the Craft” for a great example of service culture.