Our View: Service with a smile

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Steamboat Springs is enjoying a restaurant renaissance, and visitors and locals alike are reveling in the new dining choices. New restaurants have opened in record numbers across downtown, and while the new venues are drawing diners, it’s important for owners and managers to remember that it is excellent service that brings customers back.

In an editorial this winter, the Steamboat Pilot & Today praised the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association for adopting and promoting the service excellence program used by Steamboat Ski Corp. to raise the mountain’s net promoter score.

This score measures how likely a person is to recommend Steamboat to their friends and family, and according to the latest survey of summer visitors conducted by the Chamber, Steamboat’s score, although still high, took a dip from the last time it was measured in 2011.

In response, Chamber leaders embraced the Ski Corp.’s customer service model and conducted initial training service excellence sessions with business leaders this spring to train them how to train others. The program created for the Chamber by Ed Eppley, of Prospex, focuses on customer service at a community-wide level.

Seeing the success Ski Corp. has had with the service excellence program and the difference it’s had on employee attitude and morale and customer satisfaction, we urge more local restaurants to jump on board and take advantage of the training the Chamber is offering.

We realize it can be an uphill battle for restaurants to find and keep capable and reliable help, but beyond just filling positions, we think restaurants need to focus on training as a tool for retention and an investment in good business practices.

According to Chamber officials, 11 restaurants have taken advantage of the training to date, and there are a total of 25 dining establishments on the Chamber’s radar, which means that less than half have taken advantage of the program. Some restaurants that participated in the training were skeptical at first, but by the end of the sessions, all those involved said the effort definitely was worthwhile, according to Chamber personnel.

If there’s one thing that can negatively effect Steamboat’s brand as a friendly, authentic, first-class resort destination, it’s lousy service. Rather than accepting this style of service as “Steamboat’s way,” we encourage restaurants to change that bias and create new expectations for service that focus on connecting with the customer in special and memorable ways.

And instead of having to wonder how to achieve those goals, restaurants have a road map given to them in the form of service excellence training for their staff provided at no cost by the Chamber.

Again, we applaud the Chamber for championing the service excellence program and for choosing to work with the restaurant industry first. We also appreciate those restaurants who have jumped on board with the training and taken the time to offer it to their staff. In our opinion, those businesses’ efforts are really paying off with noticeably improved customer service experiences that set them apart from other businesses.

Comments

scott bideau 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said.

Restaurants need to keep in mind that around 60% of sales tax is generated by locals. Most want to at least occasionally eat out, with more and more higher income families wanting to do so more frequently. But unlike tourists, locals won't be fooled twice into paying good money for poor service.

You almost have to trip a waiter at E3 to get their attention. Many other restaurants provide such poor service that I would rather eat at home than eat out, even if someone else is picking up the tab!

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rhys jones 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I ordered my eggs over medium recently. I really like 'em over easy, but often if you order them that way, they'll still have runny whites, and I want my yolks still runny, whites solid.

They came over hard, with one yolk broken. I had a bad experience there two years ago, last time I went, when Mom was in town, they botched her order, got me irked. I won't go back. Can't name the restaurant, but will say it's one of several owned by the same guy.

This was two peoples' bad: The cook, who plated those eggs -- eggs only take a couple of miniutes; screw 'em up, best to just make more -- and the server, who should know what over medium looks like.

I tipped her before I got my order. No wonder the place was empty. She won't get my tip again, not there anyway.

I thanked the Good Lord for the nutrition anyway, and all the efforts that went into providing it. The biscuit was good.

Ghost Town is another example of a lot of money wasted, by piss-poor attitude, though there is one cutie behing the bar.

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rhys jones 4 months, 3 weeks ago

In the first sentence of paragraph 8, you want "affect" and not "effect."

If this were a commentor, I'd let it slide, but the Pilot is theoretically professional at the written word. Which is sacred, in my book. If you change it in the copy, please remove my comment.

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rhys jones 4 months, 3 weeks ago

One last comment (for the moment) before I resume this miserable life...

I can't count the restaurants I've worked at while my real life failed; I run out of toes.

They seem to come in two flavors: Dopers and tweakers. Where they're sneaking out back to catch a quick buzz, you'll get fine service. When they're going to the john for a quick bump, they don't give a $#|+ about you. Watch for nose-scratching, one tell-tale sign.

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jerry carlton 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I like Freshies, Creekside, and Winnonas, for breakfast and lunch. I like clubhouse at Haymaker on burger night and Old Town Pub during mud season on burger night for dinner. As you can see, I am a big spender. Just my personal preferences.

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rhys jones 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Add The Shack for breakfast. Ore House, Hazie's, for fine dining, now that the Old West is gone.

Affordable family fare: Carl's, Johnny B's, ZZ.

I find the service as well as fare at all of these outstanding.

Italian: No vote. I worked at the old Riggio's, under Dom and Karen. Nobody else compares.

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rhys jones 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Back when he was a ferrier, we called him Hoover Dom.

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Brian Kotowski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Random observations: that a significant number of businesses (particularly service-oriented concerns) continue to survive despite the abysmal performance of their front line staff is a testament, perhaps, to our median income and the patience (or apathy) of the patronage who tolerate that performance.

Any "business leader" who has to enroll themselves or their staff in a third-party training program to avoid lowest common denominator status should consider trading in their "leadership" credentials for stock in a turkey farm.

When it comes to restaurants, my experience has been that even when I've splurged on a higher-end venue with above average service, the food has been hit or miss. As a result, I virtually never eat out any more. It helps that I'm an enthusiastic cook. Gearing up for shrimp & scallop lasagna this weekend at Chez Sep.

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