You can dine out on a reputation for service

By Russell Bell


I really enjoy the lifestyle that Wanganui has to offer and am a really big fan of the way in which we as a business community provide really great service and develop customer value. However every now and then I find myself away from home and experience service which both exceeds expectations and sets the bar higher for those businesses which I will deal with in the future.

One such experience occurred last Friday after a hard day of decision making in Auckland. Mrs Bell and I were out and about celebrating her birthday and catching up with several of our Auckland "posse".

We had planned a night out and were intending to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant called Cafe Hanoi. It was our first time visiting this restaurant, which came with rave reviews both from the all-important "word of mouth" network and also from some of the myriad lifestyle magazines which miraculously appear in our lounge.

Also important to appreciate is that I am a food wimp of the highest order. I have no love for Asian food and can count on one finger the last time that I ate Vietnamese food.

So we entered into this night out with me feeling an element of trepidation, although the immense popularity of the venue (which crystallised as a two-hour wait for a table) did make me more comfortable.

The delivery of the waiting time information was a great example of "under promise & over deliver" because we were seated in half the time so everyone felt good from the start. However the true excellence of this restaurant began when we were introduced to our waiter.

After an introduction to the restaurant and what it was all about, we agreed to place ourselves in the waiter's care and instructed him to bring out the best dishes and "take care for the food wimp at the end of the table".

What followed was one of the best dining experiences - ever. Not only was the quality of the food superb, but the care and attention to detail of our waiter ensured that our experience was first-class. The dishes all complemented one another and each was described in terms of ingredients and what would best accompany them.

It is from service like this that reputations are created and embedded and from which word of mouth creates a buzz which has customers beating down your door to experience your products or services.

I went from nervous food wimp to spending the next morning plotting my next visit to Auckland so that I can go there again.

And all this was created by a waiter who paid attention to our table and orchestrated an outstanding experience which we are still talking about today.

And, really, what he did is not earth-shattering stuff and quite easily transferred to other business situations.

So, Cafe Hanoi, we will be back and we will be talking about you positively to all our friends who will listen. I also understand the waiter's name was Russell ... interesting.

Zenith Solutions is a Wanganui-based management consulting practice. It specialises in providing strategic planning, business process improvement and financial management services. Contact russell@manageable.co.nz or phone 021-244-2421.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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