Businesses must work together to deliver a consistently high quality experience for the consumer, writes restaurateur James Rusk
FOR more than two decades I’ve been working in the hospitality and catering industry, always learning and listening to my customers, but more importantly always delivering a consistent customer experience.
The hospitality landscape may have changed over the years, with a melting pot of flavours and cuisines now available, but what remains consistent is the fact that success in the industry is about the experience.
It’s about the marriage of quality food, outstanding service and your business character, delivered direct to your customers.
The entire package – from the quality and choice of food and drink, presentation, what the tables look like, the attitude and appearance of waiting staff – all has to be designed to provide customers with a personal touch that they’ll tell their friends about.
Every detail matters and it has to be consistent.
It’s all about the customer because the customer is king.
I’ve worked on the frontline and I’m now running my own restaurants in Glasgow, so I know the difference that great customer service can make.
When I was offered the Glasgow Welcomes chair position, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
I’ve invested in the initiative for my own team, who joined thousands of the city’s workers and Commonwealth Games Clyde-siders to complete the programme ahead of one of the busiest summers in Glasgow’s history.
It offers the right blend of customer service guidance and destination information to make it a relevant and practical training product.
Investing in people is the key to delivering the personal touch and one of my key aims as chair is to encourage other business leaders to understand and invest in the relationship between people, service and success.
Glasgow has its own unique style. The city has been voted ‘friendliest city in the world’ in a Rough Guides poll and named a must-visit destination by the New York Times, The Guardian and Wanderlust magazine.
We’ve earned our reputation as one of the world’s greatest cities – a position that was undoubtedly cemented during last year’s Commonwealth Games.
Now we have to build on it in 2015 and maintain the momentum we have gained around working together as a city to put on a great show.
But great customer service isn’t about impressing during high profile events – it needs to be delivered every day. Consistency is the key.
Connectivity is also important.
Businesses have to work together to support destination marketing because we’re all connected.
The customers that eat in my restaurants may have taken a bus or taxi to get there; they may be staying in one of the city’s hotels; they may be looking for things to do, whether a visit to a gallery or the city’s bars.
Every part of that customer’s journey has to be consistent.
The Glasgow Welcomes initiative is built on this partnership foundation, recognising that it takes a city-wide effort to maintain a reputation.
But we’ll only maximise on the impact if the city’s hospitality businesses are on board too.
We’re getting better at it and we can always do more.
It’s a successful model that is working for Glasgow. Other areas around Scotland have noticed it too and have adopted the Glasgow Welcomes approach to support their destination marketing, including Stirling, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, with others set to follow.
I would urge my fellow hospitality managers and leaders to consider improving their business and their customer service by investing in their teams.
If we all do this, we can further improve the visitor experience and attract more visitors to the city, which is good news for everyone.
• James Rusk is chair of tourism service initiative Glasgow Welcomes and owner of the Butchershop Bar & Grill and Hutchesons restaurants in the city.