Kieran MacDonald: Attention to detail - you need to dig deeper!

6 September 2016  |  Admin


Kieran MacDonald, general manager of The Savoy, London, on attention to detail and the need to dig deeper to truly understand customers:

We had an incident a while ago now that stuck with me as a memory moment. A guest was having breakfast. It was early in the morning so there weren’t many other guests there. The first I became aware of him was when he stood up from his table and started barking across the restaurant about his toast being cold. It shouldn’t happen – and it was addressed immediately. But I thought to myself, “That reaction was way too over the top. I’m not connecting the dots”, so I decided to go across and introduce myself and make sure everything was all right. By talking to him, I was able to find that actually his outburst had nothing to do with the toast. He’d missed his wake-up call that morning – our mistake – the toast was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. But I wouldn’t have known until later about the missed wake-up call had the outburst not happened or had I not actually engaged and dug a little deeper in terms of understanding the root cause. As it was, I was able to assist in a successful recovery and ultimately a happy guest.

In a cultural sense, it is so important to have this attention to detail at all colleague levels – everyone of us, from managing director to waiter, should have that sense of not just responsibility but desire. How many times have you been in a restaurant when the server comes up and says, “Did you enjoy your meal?” and you might say something like, “It was OK”. But if you have left half of your food on the plate, that’s a signal for the server to dig deeper. So if we don’t get it right at colleague level, we miss seeing problems early enough to not let them manifest.

Culture comes from the top without a doubt, it’s nurtured there – but you feed off each other. By surrounding myself with the best talent, then the culture that I as managing director believe in gets reinforced. But my own sense of culture and beliefs are constantly reinforced and modified through experiences with my team. This, despite my ever-widening age gap with my colleagues, enables me to remain open-minded to and understanding of their changing needs and expectations!