Stop bad customer service now. There is a way to change customer service forever. Meta cognition could lead to a paradigm shift in hospitality, service and training. When circumstances are tough (and that is true for hospitality, customer service and many other businesses at the moment) it’s important that you become more creative and find new ways to solve old problems.
Meta cognition loosely means thinking about thinking. It is often the highest goal that trainers could pursue, but rarely try. So how to solve the problem of poor service? Look at this rather brilliant study of nearly 1000 dinners by food critic Barry Verber; he found that pushy waiters deter diners from leaving tips. These over-attentive waiting staff have been named as the most irritating practice in British restaurants. Nearly half of the diners surveyed said that servers deterred them from leaving a tip because they were:
- Topping up already full glasses of wine
- Taking away plates while they are still chewing
- Repeatedly interrupting to ask, if everything is okay
- Generally uncaring
- Untidy appearance
- Coughing while serving
According to the majority of the diners surveyed, a ‘good’ restaurant has staff that are:
- Extensive product and menu knowledge.
So this old problem needs to find a new solution. Service training has traditionally been seen as an area where drills and old fashion repetitive exercise work best. Well the results are stark from this survey….they don’t work. We need to change our own thought process and start the move to developing staff who think for themselves while they serve. Meta-cognition and self-regulation approaches aim to help learners think about their own learning more explicitly. This is usually by teaching staff specific strategies to set goals, and monitor and evaluate their own development. Self-regulation means managing one’s own motivation towards learning. The intention is often to give staff a repertoire of strategies to choose from during service training activities. The research out there says it does work with a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses have consistently found similar levels of impact.
There are many ways to improve service and move toward being excellent. You could (of course) keep pounding your head against the wall and expecting different results with old school training methodologies. The turnover rate and level of poor service (look at those numbers) indicate this doesn’t work. So why not look at the problem in a new way? Start teaching meta cognition as part of the training process. In order to be excellent at service, you need to learn to monitor and reflect upon your own learning. This is true in teaching and training for staff about service.
I have previously written about the power of smart technology and mobile learning for staff. It gives crucial feedback and rewards staff that take control of their learning process. By working on developing thinking skills for staff that will develop long-term sustainable excellence. If we begin to see the goal as developing new leaders, then teaching thinking comes pretty high on that list.
The economic crisis has been a blessing for creativity in training. This might sound strange, but a major advantage of lack of money is that it brings back creativity. New ways and technologies can be used to teach ‘how to learn’ that give sustainable and profound impacts on customer feedback. Customers don’t appear by magic and loyalty disappears in a market where there are lots of choices available. To build up a team of excellent staff, you have to be flexible, be daring and willing to make changes.
Today business and hospitality is all about relationships and the most profitable companies have the strongest relationships and the most loyal customers. Let’s think differently about learning and how we learn to learn.