Restaurant stakeouts for customer experience
Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by Steve Prodger
One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Food Network. Thanks to years of faithful viewership I’ve learned how to make my family everything from Vietnamese salad rolls, to Spanish paella. I’ve noticed however that over the past few years their programming has made a shift away from the instructional shows that originally had me hooked towards more reality-based dramas.
Such is life in the world of television I suppose. I still watch however, albeit without quite the same level of dedication. Although there is one new show that has piqued my interest lately, it’s called Restaurant Stakeout. The premise of the show is that an industry expert comes to visit a struggling restaurant armed with hidden cameras and other surveillance equipment. He becomes a fly on the wall and helps the struggling restaurant owners identify areas where they could improve.
First the expert passively watches how the business will typically run without intervention. Then he covertly gathers feedback from the customers. Trying to understand what is and isn’t working with the restaurant, what their favorite dishes are and what they might change if they could. The restaurant expert then exposes the owner to the reality of what is happening, and presents him or her with his findings and prescribed plan of action for future improvements. What needs immediate fixing, what should be an area of focus moving forward, tips to motivate staff, etc.
This outside help is something that restaurateurs often need – whether in the form of a Food Network reality series or simply in the form of tools to help improve customer experience. I found it interesting that the format of the television series reflects what I would consider best practices in the world of CEM.
- Commit to improvement. The first step to making real changes in many facets of life is committing to an achievable target. The most effective customer experience programs will take this into account by setting specific performance targets to improve experiences. Of course, setting a target is only helpful when the teams assigned to achieve them also commit to doing so. Again, effective CEM programs will take both of these aspects into account, by tracking commitments levels alongside performance levels.
- Identify focus areas. While many areas of customer experience can often be improved, it’s near impossible for any one brand to be perfect at everything. Much like the findings on Restaurant Stakeout, it’s important for restaurant managers to understand what areas can have the biggest impact and deserve more focus. This is why for CEM programs, setting priority focus areas are such a critical step. Again, while several areas may need improvement, it’s important to help location managers to decide which ones to focus on when.
- Change employee behavior for the better. Ultimately delivering exceptional dining experiences is about changing employee behavior for the better. Both front and back of house staff need to be fully engaged and accountable to the experience they deliver day in and day out. Ensuring a commitment to achievable goals and transparency in what areas are being focused on is a great way to reduce the day-to-day frustrations of the “you’re not doing good enough” old style of management. In this sense customer experience is as much about improving the working experience for employees as it is about what gets delivered to customers
My fingers are crossed that the reality television trend will eventually die down and I can once again get back to learning how to prepare delicious exotic meals. In the meantime however it’s nice to know that the Food Network acknowledges some of the basics of great customer experience.
This entry was posted in What are the Best Practices for Setting Up & Running a Program? and tagged CEM, customer experience, customer experience management, customer feedback, Empathica Local, Food Services, guest experience, guest experience management, location managers, restaurants. Bookmark the permalink.