Article: “Service with a Smile” (Inc. Magazine, Feb. 2006)


What's the worst customer service you've had recently?
My wife made a reservation at a restaurant for an event. The host couldn't find the reservation and made my wife feel like it was her fault. So we ate elsewhere–and proceeded to tell a dozen people about the poor experience. – James D. Power IV of J.D. Power and Associates

link: "Service with a Smile" (Inc. Magazine, Feb. 2006) 


Media: “Curb Your Enthusiasm” clip

A variation on the idea behind WaiterBell is referenced in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO. Click here for the clip on YouTube.

WaiterBell Angle: This is another expression of customer demand for this type of product, however the humorous execution of the idea in this instance would not be practical for a real restaurant. The WaiterBell system is a discreet, soundless, and reliable way to signal for assistance, accomplishing Larry David's idea without all the ringing.

Resource: Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly

sample article titles:
“Customer-Satisfaction Measurement: Performance Counts”
“A Service Conundrum: Can Outstanding Service Be Too Good?”
“Restaurant Tipping and Service Quality: A Tenuous Relationship”
"Why Restaurants Fail"


Research: Critical Incidents – Service Failures that Matter Most (Jun.1998)

"Service-system failures generally occur in the core service which in this case involves providing guests with an acceptable meal. Incidents in this category gave rise to five subgroups: product defects (e.g food is cold, raw, soggy, contains hair); slow or unavailable service (i.e. excessive delivery time)…While service-delivery failures seem to be, on average, the most severe, the most frequently committed, and the most remembered, as well as yielding the greatest loss of customers….." 


link: Critical Incidents: Service Failures that Matter Most by Beth Chung and K. Douglass Hoffman for the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, June 1998 (free registration required)

Article: Quality service just as vital as the product (Feb.2006)

For example, if you're in the restaurant business, there are plenty of places your customers can go to find a meal. Just sit on a bench at the mall for about 30 minutes and people-watch. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that very few people are missing any meals.

There's also a good chance that one or more of your competitors is a much larger, corporate-based business benefiting from economies of scale that translate to lower prices, and maybe even more services. This is the plight faced by small hardware stores forced to compete with the Home Depots and Lowe's of the world.

This is why a small business must differentiate itself. And one very strong and attainable differentiation factor is customer service. But as easy as it may be to achieve, it ain't gonna happen on its own.

link: "Quality service just as vital as the product" by Susan Miller for Ledger-Enquirer, Feb.14,2006

Article: “Service with a smile fuels business success” (Feb.2006)

"Chris Hoveland, co-owner at the Chelsea, said customer service training has increased by around 30 percent since the restaurant opened. And, it apparently is paying off. The restaurant was selected as the winner of the Sun Journal Readers’ Choice Award for best wait staff.

Nationally, customer satisfaction had decreased by .8 percent in the past 10 years, a decline the American Society for Quality considers significant. It reports the lowest levels of satisfaction in service industries such as airlines, restaurants and cell phone businesses."

link: "Service with a smile fuels business success" by Lucie R. Willsie for Sun Journal Feb. 2006

Research: New study gives restaurant owners valuable insight to reach the fast-growing Hispanic market

"Overall, Hispanics and non-Hispanics agree that the most important attributes when choosing a restaurant are cleanliness, taste and value. However, Hispanics consider certain attributes more important than the general market consumer, including child-friendliness (24% versus 8%, respectively), variety (28% versus 18%), good service (39% versus 32%) and low prices (20% versus 14%)."

note: The El Mercado Restaurante study was conducted for ADVO by independent firm Woelfel Research of Dunn Loring, VA.