The food service industry is tough. The challenges of the industry range from food costs and quality, to customer service and effectively using labor. To create the perfect experience, owners must find a delicate balance with these challenges. But to add to those challenges, in today’s digital environment, customers are engaging with social media, which has its own challenges. As an example, the industry estimates customers add approximately 45 minutes to their dining experience through the use of their smartphone. Waitstaff are delayed taking orders because customers are answering emails or texts. The meal time after being served is extended because customers like to take and share images of their meals on social media. Then after the meal, there is another round of texting, emailing and interacting on social media. These delays are expected to increase.
Six Sigma Serves Up Quality For Food Service
Now, if you stop and thinking for a moment, these challenges in the food service industry are really no different than any other industry. They all revolve around product costs, labor challenges and customer service. Just like any other industry that has experienced great success with Six Sigma practices, the food service industry can achieve resolution to their buffet of challenges. From kitchen to table, food service is about process and procedures.
Preparing the food revolves around exact recipes and precise skills used to prepare the food. There are food costs involved and they must be precisely managed. They also require precision and accuracy in recipe measurements, oven temperatures, cook times, food temperature, and discipline around hygiene and health standards.
This also applies to the preparation and service of beverages. Getting the right mixtures for alcoholic drinks, and getting the right sugar and cream mixture in coffee can make or break the customer experience.
If you look at the front of the house, from door to table, it is all about customer experience and service. There are processes and procedures involved that impact every second of the customer experience. Forecasting the number of customers that will arrive each hour and day of the week, along with predicting what they will order can make the most experienced Black Belt throw up their hands in frustration.
Just like other Six Sigma industries, food service requires precision and attention to every detail.
Success For The Future
Food service professionals are starting to embrace Six Sigma practices to create a better industry for their customers and employees. Leaders must look at the core practices and understand how easily they can benefit from Six Sigma.
One of the most crucial opportunities for food service in their customer experience is the Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs. Every second a customer spends in a restaurant is an absolute opportunity for success or failure. If they find service, food and the environment exceptional, their digital raving will bring success. If they fail at any point in the customer experience, that digital transmission will cause significant pain to the business.
One of the templates we offer for free is the Customer Journey Map, which helps you capture the process, moments of truth, and emotional dimension of the customer’s journey.
These food service professionals must find ways to deal with their routine challenges of their industry, along with the new environment of the digital age. Six Sigma can bring great relief and success to this industry.