Customer Service vs. Hospitality and Why You Need Both 

Over the last few years, the food and beverage industry has changed the way it perceives customer service. As consumers become more digitally driven and want more, faster from their real time experiences, operators are seeing that people are seeking quality, value and speed all served up with a side of hospitality, the differentiating factor that separates the good operators from the average ones. But what is the difference between customer service and hospitality and why is it so important to have both? 


What is Customer Service?

Customer service is what your outlet does for its customers and it’s a byproduct of hiring well, training effectively and doing this consistently. It’s building a menu that is desirable, putting your offer at prices that match your customer’s perception of value and can be trusted to be served quickly and to a high standard every time they order. It’s having cleaning schedules in place, ensuring the space is always tidy for customers to use and maintaining an exceptional outlet environment that reflects the business. Essentially, customer service can be defined as what you do to fulfil a customer need. 


What is Hospitality?

Hospitality on the other hand is different. Hospitality is how you make your customers feel. Service expires as soon as a person has left your outlet but the hospitality provided creates memories, feelings and emotions that a person takes away with them and relates back to their experience. Providing hospitality comes down to factors including the smile that is offered when a customer walks in to your outlet, the tone of voice your staff use, the warmth of the interiors, the comfort of the decor and the smell of the food coming out of the kitchen - all the things that play on a customer’s senses and allow a memory to be lodged into their memory bank. It’s these memories that draw people back in. 


Provide Good Customer Service with Great Hospitality

Customer service and hospitality go hand in hand when you’re trying to create a unique, successful   food and beverage business. You need customer service to fulfil customer needs from quick service, quality serving, a great menu and affordable prices. These things are all very important to business and create a consistent and trusted experience for customers. The problem with providing customer service alone is that it can be replicated by other businesses and it does not fulfil the modern customer’s need for experience. This is where hospitality comes in. Hospitality is how your customer service is delivered and makes your business unique. It creates an experience that people remember and want to come back for which ultimately achieves repeat business and promotes business growth. 

Here are 5 simple things to consider when creating an outlet with sound service with a side of memorable hospitality: 

  1. Recruit well, even if the people you want cost slightly more to hire. Good staff members are invaluable. 

  2. Train your staff and teach them what hospitality means to you. Role play with your staff, hold pre-shift meetings, lead by example and show your staff hospitality as you and your customers would like to receive it. You can read more about the benefits of staff training over here.  

  3. Know your customers and their expectations so you can meet their needs

  4. Seek opportunities to create an experience, not just a transaction by knowing how your customers interact in your space. 

  5. Design and clever branding can boost the sense hospitality you offer your customers. Create warmth, comfort and a strong brand image to let your customers see and feel your business.  


Credits: Cover image via NBNco