WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY!!
Have you ever heard of or experienced TOO MUCH CUSTOMER CARE?! Surely this cannot be possible. “That’s absurd!” I hear you say. Well, before you begin your side of the debate, please read on.
Scene: You walk into a beautiful, upscale restaurant. You are greeted cheerfully by the host, who then escorts you and your party to a beautiful table in the corner of the dining room.
Before you’re even settled in your seats, here comes the waiter asking if you are ready to order drinks. Wow! Now that’s prompt service. You order a bottle of Bordeaux. Wine service is performed flawlessly. As the wine is being presented and poured by the Sommelier, the server enthusiastically describes the specials of the evening. He even offers his own recommendations. He rather quickly, yet efficiently takes everyone’s order.
Each course is served in a timely manner. Everything seems to be going great except for one small aspect; all throughout the course of the evening, your server (and his assistant) never-I mean, never, ever leave your presence with the exception of when they go to bring something- food from the kitchen, wine from the bar etc., or to remove plates from the table. Then, immediately after each task is performed they return to stand guard, ever vigilant, eyes like a hawk, ready to pounce at the slightest possibility that you may need something. You and your guests are mid-conversation when, for a slight second, you look up and you make eye contact with the server. In a flash he zips to your side, “Yes, sir?”
You’re not quite sure what he means.
“Pardon, me?” you say.
He says, “Oh, excuse me sir, you looked at me, I thought you needed something.”
At the beginning you thought, “This is great.” As soon as you take two sips of water someone is there to refill it. No need to ask. When the last drop of wine is poured from the bottle, your server is promptly standing beside you with a fresh, clean glass and a new bottle ready to pour if so directed.
So, it sounds like a dream, right? Being treated like a king. So, what is the problem with this kind of focused, attentive service? Well, some people may actually feel uneasy or uncomfortable if a server is constantly standing guard like a gargoyle perched atop an old building gawking at them, following their every move and gesture with his piercing eyes.
I realize that this style and level of service is rare and there are indeed some people- who enjoy, appreciate and seek out restaurants that provide hand and foot catering such as this. But I ask you this:
When is the line of attentiveness crossed over into the realm of annoyance? Certainly there is a delineation, albeit, a fine line between TMA-that’s Too Much Attention and TLA-Too Little Attention. All servers must find the Balance between Ignoring and Smothering. And it varies from table to table; from guest to guest. This is why Learning to read your guests is so crucial to effective service. And by reading I don’t mean just making your initial assumption at the beginning. One must be always aware of and processing the feedback that a guests gives you-both verbal and non-verbal throughout the course of service. But that’s a topic for another time.
A hovering server can really be quite irritating. Once a course is served and wine has been poured and drinks refilled and the initial checking as in “How’s your dish,” or “Is everything meeting your approval?” or whatever phrase(s) you say- I say it’s time to disappear briefly-VERY BRIEFLY. Allow your guests to enjoy their dinner in peace. You don’t have to stand there and stare at them, watching them take every single bite. You don’t necessarily have to leave the room but if you did for a few moments at a time that would be just fine.
I don’t believe anybody truly wants to be watched while dining in a restaurant-like they’re an animal on display at the zoo. However, if you happen to be in a food eating contest-then of course, you should expect to be watched and gawked at. But this is not that.
Your job is to provide exceptional service. Even though each time you approach their table you may be providing some aspect of service, clearing their plates, pouring wine etc, gawking at them, however, all the while that they are dining is not great service.
Yes, my friend, do be attentive and be available but be inconspicuous and unobtrusive. Make an effort to post yourself in a prime location which allows you full view of your tables and yet your guest’s view of you is at least partly obscured. That is the ideal to strive for, in my opinion. If you are unable to find a place hidden from view, you might consider not being only 6 feet away from them. Go away. Go fold some napkins for 10 minutes. I’m sure you can find some kind of side work to do. Give your guests some room to breathe and eat. I guarantee you that they will think their food taste better.
Below is an article by someone else who writes about their own personal experience similar to what I described above. And that was at a restaurant in France.
to be continued…
Thank you so much for reading!!!
And once again, Soupfly welcomes new readers from the following countries this past week:
Viet Nam, Panama, Nigeria, Malaysia, Kenya, Croatia, Czech Republic, Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda!!
That now brings Soupfly’s Readership to a total of 44 countries!!! I am so blessed and humbled and excited!
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Cheers and God Bless you all!!!
Oh and please keep your comments coming. I really appreciate the support and the feedback.
Christoff J. Weihman
Las Vegas, NV