Company

Fresh from the Kitchen: What Fine Dining Can Teach Us About Client Success

February 15, 2019
Eric Hynes
Customer Success

Have you ever walked out of a restaurant smiling from ear to ear? The attentive server, a welcoming atmosphere, and a divine meal…all combined to make your experience something special?

A great restaurant is a shining example of how a well-run business can generate immediate customer gratification. These qualities translate seamlessly across industries.

By studying the service of top restaurants like The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park, we learn the importance of autonomy and accountability among all employees. The chef who stays in the kitchen and prepares the meal is just as important as the waiter serving the entree.  

There is a process that every employee in a restaurant must follow for complete success. As with all industries, the process is sometimes interrupted. Chicken gets overcooked. A patron waits too long for a table. A good restaurant will do its due diligence of apologizing, sending a round drinks, and a free dessert. A great restaurant will do the same, but then reflect on how to improve. Similarly, any great business can take a mistake and turn it into a learning for the future. Never dwelling, just ready and able to adapt.

“Forget it enough to get over it, remember it enough so it doesn’t happen again.”

As I began drafting this blog post, I continued to see many similarities between Unacast and the restaurant industry. In a 40-person start-up, all sectors of the business are intertwined.

Supply to Engineering. Product to Marketing. Sales to Client Success. Like in a restaurant, all parts of the business are reliant on one another, with the waiter acting as the “face” of the business.

At a location data company, the Client Success team has little control over the end product. This makes understanding the product of paramount importance. I want to know all of the sources for our data, and I want to understand how our data products are being sold and marketed in the industry. I love getting into the weeds with Engineers at Unacast because they are so willing to help me expand my understanding of the product, and that understanding allows me to better serve clients.

No matter the industry, putting in the extra effort to learn the product is key - to return to the restaurant idea, this is akin to being the waiter who can answer a guest's questions about where all of the food is sourced and what spices are used in each dish, without having to return to the kitchen to ask the chef. Ask to be included in meetings, whether it’s a sales pitch or a supply strategy meeting. Never archive a piece of documentation until you have thoroughly read through each line and asked a question. Being proactive and invested not only improves internal relationships between commercial and technical teams, but it improves external client relations as well.

I had never worked in Client Success until I joined Unacast, but I have always loved being the host, a role that shares much in common with CS, from diving into high-pressure situations to making sure everyone around the table is happy and satisfied. Unacast has allowed me to be independent, vocal, and strategic, all of which was new to me and starting out was quite terrifying. Why would clients trust me? I kept saying to myself, “shouldn’t I check with my boss?”  

But things are different here. Unacast has an ability to attract strong individuals with incredible minds and confident personalities. There is a sense of trust and a “be your own CEO” mentality. This culture removes any sort of bureaucratic disruptions and empowers and enables you to get s*** done.

Isn’t it great when a waiter knows the specials and every ingredient in a dish, relaying the information seamlessly and without needing to check back in the kitchen? That’s the mindset I have adopted when it comes to Client Success. I want to have the answers, know the process and provide solutions—if I don’t the first time, next time I will.

Fortunately, I still have so much to learn, so if I make a mistake, the next drink is on me!