Secret dossiers. Cryptic notes. Top-secret files. No, it’s not a spy novel or the latest political headline we’re talking about, but your favorite restaurant. More and more dining establishments are using guest-tracking software to keep detailed notes on their customers in an effort to provide personalized service that’s intended to make everyone feel like a VIP.
“We track everything from food allergies and dietary restrictions to birthdays and seating preferences,” says Ana Manzano, reservations manager at Localis. “From there we make little notes so that the maître d’ can accommodate the guest without any surprises and make them feel that we took the extra step to give them a great experience.”
Greg Foster, general manager at The Waterboy, says that they track the preferences and positive experiences of most diners. But “for our longtime loyal customers, we take it a step further to remember special dates in their lives, table preferences, food preferences, what their favorite cocktails are, things like that.”
Customers are sometimes taken aback by the attention to detail. “Some will say jokingly, ‘What, do you have a file on me? Is J. Edgar Hoover running things around here?’” says Foster with a laugh. “I think everybody these days is aware that there is technology out there that allows you to do that, and I think they’re appreciative of it. That’s why we use it.”
Do they ever keep tabs on customers who leave lousy tips or were impolite to staff? “Honestly, no,” insists Foster. “Everybody has a bad day or something going on. We really use it to focus on the positive and the care-giving aspects of what we do. We use it to take care of our guests, plain and simple.”
At Localis, Manzano does keep a record of cancellations and no-shows, however. “That’s something that we look at because it really throws a wrench in the service,” she explains.
Diners needn’t worry about spelling out their every like and dislike for staff. “We pick up on it,” says Foster. “We know what their preferences are, and we make a note of it because it’s important to us as much as it is to them.”