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Good manners cost nothing

Eurest | Great service |  28 November 2012


42: the answer to life, the universe and everything — at least according to science fiction author Douglas Adams.

He created a fictional super-computer to end all super-computers that had the sole purpose of working out the answer to life. Unfortunately, knowing the answer contributed nothing because people didn’t understand why 42 was the answer (Adams, 1979).

Sometimes things are just like that. Take great service, for example.

Good-enough service can be specified; it’s attentiveness, responsiveness, politeness — and numerous other factors that can be pinned down into a training manual. But outstanding service has something extra, an indefinable spark that some people just have.

Psychologists have found that the simple act of smiling at a customer can set off a beneficial chain reaction (Jarrett, 2012); the staff member’s smile triggers a warm reaction in the customer that, in turn, reinforces and amplifies the good vibes the staff member is feeling and sending out. It creates a situation where both parties leave the transaction feeling good. Could that be the secret of great service?

Unfortunately it’s probably just one small aspect of the conundrum.

Providing service that’s perceived as great is a challenge we relish. We believe awareness is key to getting to grips with what customers want from a workplace restaurant — and then providing it. So we ask for feedback and we listen. We approach things on a site-by-site basis. We work hard at choosing the right people to work front-of-house, people who will keep their finger on the pulse of what customers are looking for and will incorporate what they learn into the service experience they provide. People with that indefinable something.

In a more serious frame of mind, Douglas Adams said, “to give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity”. Maybe not the ultimate answer, but a good steer for success (Adams, quoted by

Adams, D, (1979) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, New York, Ballantine Books. Brainy Quote, Douglas Adams quotes [online], (Accessed 13 November 2012). Jarrett, C, (2012) ‘When sales staff smile everyone wins’, The British Psychological Society Research Digest, 6 September [online] (Accessed 13 November 2012).

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