Trying to get a New Year’s Eve dinner booking 24 hours beforehand in Melbourne is a challenge. In this city of find restaurants bookings for big occasions need to be made weeks in advance. It took me more than twenty phone calls and many rejections before I was successful. The experience taught me something about exceptional customer service. Many restaurants served attitude when I called Dec. 30 asking if they had a table available for the next night. Some were downright rude.

The rudest to me were Donovans, Circa at the Prince and The Stokehouse. They treated my like a fool and maybe I was calling the day before New Year’s Eve for a booking. I didn’t need or appreciate their attitude. A simple no, sorry, we’re full would have been fine. Their attitude makes me not want to eat there.

Cafe di Stasio and France Soir were good and made other suggestions. They at least cared about me.

The best experience was The Lake House in Daylesford. When I called they were booked out but suggested I go on their standby list as they were busy calling people to reconfirm bookings. An hour or two later they called to say they had a table available. I took it. How they handled my query told me I was important to them even though they were booked out. To many other restaurants I felt like a time waster.

These calls to restaurants are like calls to our IT help desk. Brief, urgent and seeking a quick outcome. It is a challenge ensuring the best possible service every time because sure enough the one time you provide bad service someone will blog about it – ah the democracy of blogging software where everyone can be a writer and a publisher! The restaurant experience reminded me of how brief an opportunity we have to impress. All too often it comes down to how you sound on the phone more so than what you say. By sounding warm and interested you will leave a better impression. However, if you’re taking 100 calls in a day it’s a hard demeanor to maintain. We’re working on ways to help with that – to make it easier for our team to enjoy their work and therefore enjoy answering calls.

The Lake House is a fine restaurant and well worth visiting. Their team members clearly enjoy working there.

Photo from The Lake House website.