Montana & steaks: Where customer service collides

Kelli - Whitefish“I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s the best steak I’ve ever had.  And that’s saying a lot from a girl born and raised in Montana.”  That’s just one phrase that made dining at The Boat Club such a memorable experience.  Yes, the steak was delicious as was everything else we ate that evening.  But it was our server who made our evening such a memorable one.

Meet Kelli.  She’s a native of Montana which makes her job at this fine dining restaurant nestled in The Lodge at Whitefish such a perfect fit.  From the moment she said hello to wishing us a wonderful night, Kelli made sure our time at “her restaurant” was an experience to remember.

So, why feature a story about a great meal? Because what employees like Kelli bring to the table [quite literally in this case] is a level of customer service and experience every business should be relentless about finding.  Surveys show in today’s competitive marketplace, customers are becoming much more discerning about their spending dollars.  So if we assume your products are excellent (which should be the standard for every business) then service becomes your primary differentiator.  And that’s where folks like Kelli make all the difference.

The kind of customer experience Kelli provided included three distinguishing characteristics:

#1  She wanted to be there.
You just can’t manufacture this.  Yes, it’s true this is a job but the attitude and decision to WANT to be there makes all the difference in each interaction with customers (and co-workers for that matter).  A genuine smile and friendly voice greeted and welcomed us as if we were in her home.   We could have been her first table of the night our her fiftieth – and it didn’t matter.  She could have had a terrible day up that point – but we never knew it.  Or perhaps she was under the weather – we never knew the difference.  When your employees WANT to be at work, your customers immediately see, hear and feel the difference.

#2  She knew the menu as if she prepared it.
I think our ordering experience was one of most fun I’ve had in a while.  As I often do when traveling, I asked her some of her favorite items.  As if she weren’t friendly enough, her face completely lit up when she began describing the menu choices.  Now keep in mind, we were in Montana – a beef state – so a steak isn’t just a steak.  She took the time to describe the curing process for both brands of beef they carried (Allen Steaks and Wagyu) even to the point of the differences in taste.  It was as though we were in her kitchen; she knew the menu that well.  A level of confidence occurred in which we knew we would enjoy EVERYTHING on the menu.  And that level of product knowledge affects your customers’ buying behavior. 

#3  Her job never ended.
Due in large part to Kelli’s interactions with us, we ordered three courses at our table.  And Kelli ensured we enjoyed every bite.  She jokingly asked us how we enjoyed our meals to ensure she “made good” on her promises.  And truthfully, all we could do was nod yes because we were too busy eating.  Kelli was our hostess from beginning to end and you could tell she felt her job was not complete until we left the restaurant completely satisfied.  That level of service has a way of changing the tone of the entire experience.  And when done well ensures customers want to talk about it long after they leave.

Which brings us to our close.  Our experience was so good that at the end of the evening  I asked to feature Kelli in our blog.  She was flattered but that’s not why she provided the service we received;  that’s just her.  And that’s why our experience is being shared with you.  In your world, are customers asking to brag about your employees?  It’s a good question to ponder.  If not, perhaps you need to dine with someone like Kelli to discover how that can happen in your world.  Trust me.  Your customers want to share those good stories.  They just need you to give them a reason to.

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