Customer Service Lessons from Atlanta’s New St. Cecilia Restaurant
Restaurants thrive or fail based on a number of factors, one of which is customer service. Good customer service is something I truly appreciate as a restaurant patron, and after a pleasant experience I often think about the factors that made it so.
I had the opportunity to attend St. Cecilia’s friends and family soft launch and was thoroughly impressed. However, I wasn’t surprised; Rocket Farm has made a name for itself with nationally-renowned gourmet Atlanta eateries like The Optimist and King + Duke. In addition to the delicious food, I observed the following effective customer service tactics:
Remain vigilant, accountable and proactive. St. Cecilia strategically positions server assistants as sentinels to ensure that guest and restaurant needs are swiftly met. Rather than focusing on sections, they view the whole restaurant as their responsibility. Server assistants were always on hand to help serve so that entire courses could be delivered simultaneously and no one at a table was left waiting. Dishes and silverware were bussed within a minute of completing each course.
Anticipating client needs instead of simply responding to client requests creates new opportunities for up-sells. Community managers are more effective when they are empowered to observe and respond to negative feedback on social media. Trade shows are more successful when everyone in the booth automatically steps up to talk to visitors, as those visitors are all potential leads.
Make customers feel special. No business, culinary or otherwise, can surpass St. Cecilia in the realm of courtesy. Our server, Tex, proactively advised me that the veal would sell out soon in case we wanted to order it (which we did, as it turned out). Even though he was quite busy, Chef Ford Fry personally came to our table to ask if we were enjoying our bread.
Little gestures can go a long way toward fostering lasting business relationships. Acknowledging client birthdays, milestones and achievements are a great way to show interest beyond mechanical business transactions. Involving high-profile or highly-qualified executives in meetings helps convey the importance of the client’s success.
Test or offer pro bono hours to refine your service. The friends and family soft launch was a valuable opportunity for St. Cecilia to field test the various parts of the kitchen and simultaneously recruit customers to help spread the word. The evening concluded with free response comment cards so guests could leave their feedback.
Offering a new service or launching a new practice area? Consider giving a discount, perhaps in the form of free or reduced-cost work, in exchange for uncensored feedback or customer referrals. Another option: testing with your own or imaginary campaigns. Minor speed bumps are pretty common with any new undertaking, and it’s better for those bumps to show up prior to an expensive or critical campaign.
Photo credit Bryce Clark. Used with express permission.