Service Experience at Hello Bistro
By Diana Sun and Lauren Zemering
At Hello Bistro in Oakland, there are 2 different food services; there is a salad bar and a burger ordering system. Within these two systems, there is the choice of either ordering these items as a dine-in or take-out option. The most observable roles are the different roles each staff member plays within the restaurant. While everyone is wearing the same Hello Bistro shirt, each person alternates as being one or more of the roles during their shifts. There are cashier(s), salad builders, salad choppers, managers, chefs and burger makers, food delivery staff, table busers, custodial staff, restockers of the soda and salad bar, and the customers. The people who support these in-store employees include the staff to one another, food suppliers, farmers, managers that are higher up in the corporate infrastructure, tshirt makers, furniture companies, interior designers, power suppliers, security staff, and the menu creators.
While there is a lot going on around us, some of the stuff is invisible to us. We can see the tip of the chefs’ heads through the countertop opening into the kitchen but we can’t actually see how the chefs make the food. We also can’t see the treatment of the trash, the food preparation, the storage or restock materials, or the cleaning of the bathrooms.
The interactions at hello bistro are a good combination of physical, digital, and informational touch points. Before even going to the location, customers can find out more about the food they offer and the restaurant’s overall “vibe” through the design of its website. Upon arriving at the restaurant, the glass doors are the first touchpoint, making the restaurant feel open and welcoming. Then the large posters on the wall as you enter give you instructions on how to order food as well as some highlights of what they offer. The conveyer belt line barriers guide entering customers to the cashier, bending in the middle to lead them to a countertop of detailed hand-held paper menus (see images at end of article). Another touchpoint is the place where you deposit the small menus at the cashier’s counter after customers finish looking at them. The cashiers who greet you are another touchpoint because they’re your first impression of the service at the restaurant. The digital card payment machine is an important touchpoint that gives you details on the pricing of your food. The salad bar display is a good touch point because customers can point at and see all their desired ingredients. The salad making and salad chopping staff are also touch points that offer customers a sense of “personalization of their food.” The final receiving of the salad, either in a bowl or in a bowl and carry-out bag is another touchpoint. The metal number sign you are given to wait for your burger, the drink dispenser, napkin and fork area, and trashcan are all touch points that support the main experience at Hello Bistro. The bathroom is another touchpoint, especially since there’s a funny sign on the mirror to provide a sense of “personality” for the restaurant. The arrangement of the seating is an important touchpoint because customers can choose between four different types of seating: the high chair tables, the bar area, the low metal seats, and the couch booths. Each of these options can provide a different restaurant experience. The last touchpoint of the experience is the customer throwing away his/her tray of trash or leaving it on the table for the staff to clean.
The diagram above shows the people to people interactions at Hello Bistro. It illustrates the different individuals and their roles, and how they interact with one another. The section below the dashed line demonstrates the interactions that take place that customers may not see; the “behind the scenes” or supporting activity. Some individuals/institutions that might be involved but are not shown in the diagram may include the family of each individual, city waste disposal, those involved in transportation to and around the restaurant, and the City of Pittsburgh.
Hello Bistro is set up to be a very friendly, warm, and customer-involved environment. This can be seen in the interactions that take place between customer and staff, within the staff, as well as with the customer and the ordering process. The behavior of the employees makes the customer seem important and welcome, and like he or she can contribute to the process of making his/her food. As you walk up to the cash register, the cashier is very friendly, makes direct eye contact when she speaks with you, and is smiling the whole time — she seems happy that you have come in to dine. The process of having your salad made is very personal; a staff member walks your salad along the bar as you tell him/her what you would like to have added to it. If you order a burger instead of a salad, you have the luxury of having your meal brought to your table for you once it is finished being prepared.
The interior and physical setup of the space seem to reflect this environment as well. The decor is young and trendy and has seemingly homemade touches like menus and advertising boards that mimic the aesthetic of chalkboards. The furniture looks new and has an urban vibe to it. The seats are comfortable enough to sit in for a decent duration while finishing a meal, but aren’t quite comfortable enough to entice you to stay for any longer than an hour. This implies that it is a comfortable place to share a meal with friends, but that is is better suited to be somewhere to have a quick meal than it is a destination restaurant. One of the most notable gestures, however, was that they have a menu station where you first walk in so that you don’t have to feel rushed making an order while standing in front of the cashier and so you don’t hold up any other customers. The menus that are picked up here could also then be dropped off at the cashier’s station as you make your order.