Making Customers Feel At Home
Posted by Becky Carroll on January 16, 2008
At Hometown Buffet restaurant, they serve an all-you-can-eat buffet with a smile. One of my readers, Linda, shared a great story about their local restaurant in Citrus Heights, California. Linda goes to Hometown every Monday, and the staff has gotten to know her and her husband very well.
For the holidays, this Hometown Buffet was offering pecan pie for dessert, her husband’s favorite. As the holidays began to wind down, less and less pecan pie was available (they only offer it during the holidays – “while supplies last”). In January, the pie was only being served on the weekends and was usually gone by the time my reader went in on Mondays.
On this particular Monday, the pie was, indeed, already gone. Disappointed, Linda and her husband sat down to eat their meal. A few minutes later, Al, one of the managers, came out to their table – with a huge piece of pecan pie! He said to them, “I know how much you love the pecan pie, so I set a piece aside just for you yesterday afternoon, before we ran out.” These two customers were amazed, and thrilled! The pie was a larger-than-usual piece on a plate which was different from the typical buffet plates. The manager obviously knew the key to his customers’ hearts (and stomachs). She said to me, “Al made our experience great.”
Here are some of the other things Linda told me about this restaurant:
Both of the managers, Al and “Bambos”, sit down to talk with their customers and see how things are going. She said to me, “People don’t seem to do that anymore!”
If a customer needs anything, the wait staff usually figures out a way to come up with it.
The service makes customers want to come back to the same restaurant location over and over again.
“They don’t treat us like customers; they treat us like we are coming to dinner at their house.”
What do you do to ensure your regular customers are happy? If you are like most businesses, not much. The task usually falls to a few people who are very good at customer service and who implement “random acts of great customer service.” On the other hand, treating customers like family – what a great compliment! Companies that can create a positive experience which is consistent across customer touches (different touch points, different days) and exceeds expectations will win a customer’s heart. Old Country Buffet, the parent company of Hometown Buffet, also owns the restaurant chain Tahoe Joe’s, and I like how they describe their customer service:
“Tahoe Joe’s provides legendary service – the unique and powerful sort of personal care and attention that guests tell stories about.”
Organizations striving for that kind of customer service will surely achieve it; it’s in their DNA. Nice job, Hometown Buffet in Citrus Heights. You guys rock!
(Photo credit: Paha L)