My birthday was last Wednesday and, it being a special one, we celebrated it twice. Once on the actual day, with a casual dinner, and again last Friday evening at a higher end dining venue.
I was allowed to select the casual place, and chose a local Mexican restaurant. When I booked they asked, as a matter of course, if it was for a special occasion, and I told them we were celebrating a birthday. When we came in and gave our name, I noted in the reservation log that there was a small “HB” next to my name, which I (correctly) assumed was their code for “Happy Birthday.”
Sure enough, at the end of the meal I was given a sombrero to wear, we were serenaded, and they gave us a nice little festive dessert with a candle. Delightful!
For the more costly dinner, my wife and daughters selected the place. They booked it on OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation web site. There is a place for comments and requests, where they put in the fact that we were celebrating a birthday.
We arrived, and the reservations lady wished me a happy birthday. When they showed me a table and I said if it would not be a bother I preferred a booth, the person seating us said, “No problem. After all, it is your birthday.” After dinner, on the way out, a different person at the desk said “Happy Birthday.”
That made three people who were aware that it was a birthday dinner. And what did this higher end service establishment do to help make it a special meal, to entice me into coming back, to make me want to tell the world about them? Absolutely nothing!
We had ordered three desserts, and no one thought of at least putting a candle in one of them. Or offered up a complimentary beverage, flowers for the table, or a little special side dish. I expected nothing elaborate, but since they obviously knew about the event, I did look forward to some small tangible recognition of the occasion.
A year from now I will not be able to remember what I ate in either of these two places, but there is no doubt as to which one I will return during the year.
Yes, I realize that restaurants are in the hospitality business, and you call your company’s client interactions “customer service.” But no matter what you provide, it is the little things that customers notice, comment on and remember.
The truth is, as far as your customers are concerned, you are indeed in the hospitality business.
Think about it.