It’s been a week since my last post … unusual for me and the only reason (excuse) is that my trip to Las Vegas was entirely focused on spending time with my family. Of course, me being me, I simply could not help but notice and store up a whole lot of customer service related experiences.
There were many meh moments, as well as some truly fine examples of terrible customer service and service that rocks. Today, I want to share one of those rocking moments.
Friends of ours told us about Hash House A Go Go, located on the strip at The Quad. They’d discovered it on their last trip to Las Vegas and raved about the place. We almost went to a restaurant closer to our hotel but at the last minute decided to keep walking the few extra minutes. It was worth those few extra minutes.
The food looked good and tasted good. The portion sizes were huge! One plate could easily feed two. But most importantly, and the reason we went back a second time, was because of the service. I simply had to know if they were really that good all the time or if we just got lucky with an unusually great server the first time.
Here is a short list of all the customer service standards they absolutely nailed:
- Under promise, over deliver. There was a wait to get into the restaurant at 10:00 am and at 2:00 pm. I’m told it doesn’t really matter what time of day you get there; you will probably end up waiting. Each time we put our name on the wait list, we were given an estimated wait time that was longer than the time we actually had to wait. 15 minutes doesn’t seem nearly as long if you are told it could be up to 25 minutes. I have been to too many restaurants that told me 15 minutes when it was actually closer to 30.
- Acknowledge the customer immediately. We were seated in two different sections and served by two different people. Both times, our very busy servers were unable to get water glasses to us right away, but that did not stop them from taking a quick stop at our table, to let us know we had been seen and they would be with us in just a moment. In some customer service sessions I deliver, I hear “They can see I am busy and I never keep them waiting for more than a few minutes.” We could see they were busy and quite frankly, I expected to have a lot of time to peruse the menu before the server in our section got to us. Not at Hash Hash A Go Go. Both of our servers, as well as all the others I could see, stopped at each new table within seconds.
- Focus on the customer. In spite of how busy the restaurant was, none of the serving staff gave the impression of being rushed. When they were standing in front of our table, we were their one and only focus. They patiently explained the menu, they asked how we were enjoying our trip to Vegas, they laughed, they smiled … they took the time to make us feel welcome.
- Find ways to make the impossible possible. Hash House A Go Go is missing two pieces of standard commercial restaurant kitchen equipment … on purpose. There is no microwave in their kitchen. There is also no food warming equipment. When the kitchen team has cooked and plated the food, it doesn’t sit under a heat lamp. It goes out to the table. They made a commitment to fresh and they keep it. That means they have food runners. Lots and lots of food runners. I am pretty sure the labour costs are higher than a heat lamp. I am also sure that the long line-ups and constant turn-over of tables that result from this, plus their other service standards, more than makes up for those additional costs.
- Be clear as to expectations. Every single plate that came out of that kitchen was beautifully presented. Every plate of chicken and waffles that went by our table and the one that landed on our table in front of my husband looked the same. The management team at Hash House A Go Go has very obviously created clearly defined standards, for both front and back of house. Based on consistent delivery of those standards, I venture to guess they also have a strong training program in place to help their team meet and exceed the high expectations they have created. Companies that want to be the best, outline what the best looks like and then supports their team in achieving the best.
- Have fun. This restaurant seems to be in a consistent state of “getting slammed”. The only difference is just how hard they are getting slammed. I have never seen an entire team move that fast in such a coordinated way. I have also never seen that many people having fun while working that hard. Smiles, laughter between team members. High fives, managers fist-bumping their staff as they walked by.
On our second visit, I said something along the lines of “Everyone seems to be having so much fun” to our server. He stopped what he was doing and told us how much he loved working at Hash House A Go Go. He talked about the team environment, how everyone gets along.
Hash House A Go Go is busy for a reason. High standards, a great product and even more importantly, great service. Next time you’re in Vegas, make sure you go. Leave time and bring an empty stomach. You will need both!