Monte Silva on Customer Service Vs. Hospitality: Developing Mindsets and Skill Sets

Ignite Expert

People often ask me what’s the difference between hospitality and service.  This is an excellent question. Many people confuse the two. When someone writes a review on social media, they may say, “the service was awesome.” But, most of the time, they’re actually referring to hospitality. So, what’s the distinction between service and hospitality?

Customer service versus hospitality 

While many people use the terms interchangeably, the definitions of hospitality and service are different. Service is a skill set, whereas hospitality is a mindset. However, the differences don’t stop there. Your crew needs skills and knowledge to do their job and avoid restaurant service mistakes. It’s making sure all of the steps are done correctly, including: 

  • Greeting the guest
  • Taking food and drink orders
  • Making sure the guest has everything they need, like a full glass of water
  • Serving the food
  • Dropping off the check
  • Processing the payment

Hospitality is “how” you perform the service steps and how your hospitality makes your guest feel. It’s about caring about the guest’s experience, not just going through the motions. People want to be cared for, not merely served. And they can tell when their server is faking it. 

Whenever I hire someone for a restaurant position, I always favor mindset over skill set. It’s much easier to train team members to perform service skills than train staff to acquire the hospitality mindset. Hire employees who care about others first. They are better employees because of how they treat the guest and how they treat their teammates and your restaurant. 

Hospitality is the human factor

We live in a technologically-advanced world with immediate access to millions of people at the touch of our fingers. However, while our society is high-tech, it has become low touch. ATMs eliminate the need to speak with a bank teller. Self-checkout lanes allow us to move through the line without human contact quickly. We even have automated phone services that require punching numbers just to reach a real human being. 

Heck, facetime used to mean grabbing coffee, lunch, or a drink, not using FaceTime on our phones. Even restaurateurs embrace technology, such as using kiosks for convenient ordering and payment options. Although these are all time-saving services, restaurant owners must pay attention to the human factor. 

It feels like there are very few opportunities for someone to truly feel cared for these days in our digital world. While some processes benefit from low-touch methods, restaurant guests still crave personalized and special experiences. People sitting at your table or on your bar stool may want to celebrate a life moment. Others came to forget life for a moment. We have the opportunity to make their life a little better by caring. 

By focusing on hospitality first, and incorporating a human-first approach in your restaurant culture, you’ll develop stronger customer and staff relationships. 

Improve restaurant culture by cultivating a hospitality mindset

As restaurateurs, our message to our guests should be YOU matter to us. It’s also the message we should be sharing with our teammates. YOU matter to me. Show hospitality to everyone.  If we all do that, this world will be a better place because humans were here.

Get the support you need by scheduling a call with Monte.

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