Industry News | September 16, 2014 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Boston Market Ramps Up Customer Service

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At Boston Market, the guest experience is of the utmost importance. That’s why the Golden, Colorado–based, 460-unit chain rolled out its new Guest Service Excellence program this month.

“Like any service-oriented business, guest experience and customer service are items that we’re constantly working to perfect,” says Tony Buford, the brand’s chief operating officer. “Coming off of four straight years of sales growth, we want to ensure that experience remains consistent at any of our 460 restaurants on any given day. The Guest Service Excellence program is designed to drive our culture to the point where all of our field employees produce excellent customer service every day.”

Corporate executives made a point to visit locations all across the U.S. as a part of the program rollout, introducing employees to the revamped customer service touch points, Buford says. The program focuses on five key pillars, including friendliness, taste and temperature of food, efficient speed of service, table touches, and problem resolution. In terms of friendliness, the first pillar, employees are encouraged to follow the G.U.E.S.T. acronym: greet the guest, give undivided attention, make eye contact, smile, and thank the guest.

“It sounds common sense, but it’s one of those things that we’re really emphasizing the importance of each one of these components and how it’s not good enough to just have one or two—you have to have all five of them for the guest to feel their business was valued,” Buford says.

As Boston Market is centered on home-style food, serving the food at the optimal temperature is essential for a pleasurable experience—so much so that at each restaurant, there is a dedicated chicken carver. Employees must know how to handle food properly, but also efficiently, Buford adds. To differentiate its customer service from other quick-serve establishments, Boston Market also encourages employees to make table visits.

“Three or four years ago, we started table visits,” Buford says. “We try to remind our staff how, once a guest gets their food and sits down, a table visit can be really important—it’s not something you traditionally see in a fast-casual setting, so it’s something we believe really sets us apart.”

Corporate executives track customer satisfaction ratings on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, Buford says. To do so, they brought on Service Management Group last year.

“One of the things we’re extremely proud of so far is that we’ve seen a 6 percent increase to start this year over the first 7–8 months since we’ve launched this program in our overall satisfaction scores with guests,” Buford says.

By Tamara Omazic

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