Earlier this month, The New York Times published a list of codes used by restaurants to communicate about specific guest needs, i.e. at Union Square Hospitality Group, "N.L." indicates that a customer needs love and "O" indicates a larger guest. But more and more restaurants are also tracking guests' full dining experiences — logging what kind of water they drink, how much money they spend on wine, where they like to sit, how long they linger after a meal, etc. Restaurant groups like Altamarea and Union Square Hospitality have separate computer systems that catalog guest checks for further analysis. Ann Shepherd, vice president for marketing at Open Table, calls it "The Cheers Effect."
Gone is the time when all-knowing maître d's were required to remember every customer's intricacies, though industry experts assert that computer systems can only provide so much. "High tech will never replace high touch," a senior managing partner at Union Square Hospitality Group tells the New York Times, "Data just gives us an opportunity to understand someone better." And the number one way to get great service at a restaurant? Be nice to your server. "I am more inclined to do something extra for someone who is respectful, versus people who are entitled and think who they are will get them extra service," a former headwaiter at Per Se says. "How you act goes a long way."
· What Restaurants Know (About You) [NYT]
· Terms of Service [NYT]
[Photo: Per Se by Krieger]