Is Hospitality A Goner?

After a tough week, it’s finally Foodie Friday.

Andrew Zimmern before taping

Andrew Zimmern before taping (Photo credit: Lester Public Library)

I’ve written a lot about service and how I think that’s one of the most important aspects of any business in a time when many goods and services are being commoditized in most consumers’ minds.  That notion came up again yesterday during an “Ask Me Anything” with food writer Andrew Zimmern on Reddit.  He was asked the following and gave this answer:

Is there a current trend in food that you wish would go away?

[–]andrewzimmern[S]  Where to begin! I think one trend that is very noticeable in restaurants is less and less emphasis on service. I think that’s a horrible trend. Even at a hot dog stand, you want to be greeted.  The saddest trend is that the word hospitality is going extinct.

Exactly.  Hot dogs, to use his example, can be found everywhere from convenience stores to food trucks to specialty restaurants, and there are few foods that are more of a commodity item.  What ultimately gets people to choose your business to provide them, and to get the customers to return, is service – the biggest part of the relationship with the customer.

Over the years I ha the pleasure of working with the folks at Anheuser-Busch.  They had a very simple goal at the core of their marketing:  make friends with the customer.  Even today, when you distill their marketing down, it’s about making the brand a friend.  Service is what does that along with delivering the inherent brand promise – this is how our product makes your life better by fulfilling a need or want.

So that’s the question with which to end the week:  when was the last time your did a service check on your business?  Maybe it’s mystery shoppers or maybe it’s a survey but how are you checking, analyzing, and improving customer service?  Another great partner – Microsoft – bases a fair piece of their reps’ compensation on annual feedback from partners.  That’s a great notion – maybe one you might consider.

Zimmern called it hospitality.  I’m using the term service today.  Call it what you will, it’s the lifeblood of any business and while he thinks it’s becoming extinct, I think it’s the businesses that lose it that will be the ones leaving the scene.  What do you think?

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