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Rethinking the Guest Satisfaction Equation

Rethinking the Guest Satisfaction Equation

By Pam Simos

Over the past few decades, restaurant operators have trained their team members that guest satisfaction depends on four concepts: Quality, Service, Courtesy and Cleanliness, or QSCC. Many companies adopted a QSCC philosophy without thinking too much about its real meaning. What does the “Q” in “quality” relate to? What areas do we need to clean? Are “service” and “courtesy” subjective or based on any real principles? What about value and pricingñwhere do they fit in? Aren't they a factor in a company's success ?

Over the years, the incompleteness and ambiguity of the QSCC goals caused operators and staff to use their imagination to interpret each word. I can attest to this after more than 26 years of working in the industry. I was taught the acronym, but I was never given the details to achieve the goals and the meaning behind them. Since there was never any real substance to these goals, the four general words grew diluted and powerless over time.

Also, today, guests must be more than satisfied for your business to earn their patronageñsatisfaction alone does not create loyalty. You must continually exceed your guests' expectations to win their loyalty.

How can you exceed your guests' expectations? I suggest replacing the QSCC with the Power of the Ps. The Ps are defined as follows:

  • Product
  • Personalities
  • Service Procedures
  • Property
  • Policies
  • Promises
  • Pricing

Going a step further, we can add adjectives to describe each element more fully:

  • Product—perfect
  • Personalities—people-pleasing
  • Service Procedures—professionally delivered, timely
  • Property—pleasant
  • Policies—guest friendly
  • Promises—fulfilled
  • Pricing—value

Next you should focus on each P and ask questions such as: What makes a perfect product? What makes a peoplepleaser personality? The chart on this page outlines the core framework of the Power of the Ps so you can explain to your staff each of your goals and what you expect from them. A few example elements are provided under each P to help illustrate the concepts.

To promote team ownership and camaraderie, during your next staff meeting, have your staff complete the chart by listing additional elements that comprise the first five Ps. Afterwards, you will have this in writing as your company's goals. When your team arrives at a total of 25-30 additional key elements for the first five Ps, the exercise was a success and you can commend your team.

So what does all this mean? When you exceed your guests' expectations by making a commitment to always follow the Power of the Ps, you win with repeat business and decreased marketing costs. Teaching and enforcing the Power of the Ps will keep your guests coming back. They'll also tell their friends about their experience and spread positive word of mouth.

The Power of the Ps


  • Food and Beverages
  • Delicious, tasty, flavorful
  • Visually appealing/attractive presentation
  • Pleasant smell
  • Fresh, bacteria-free
  • Proper portions
  • Correct temperature


  • Professionalism
  • Anticipation
  • Communication skills/Dialogue
  • High energy, upbeat, enthusiastic
  • Positive verbal and nonverbal language
  • Sincere, friendly smile

Service ProceduresñProfessionally Delivered and Timely

  • Appropriate order-taking procedures
  • Organization/consolidation
  • Anticipation
  • Correct table service procedures and serving rules
  • Focal/pivot point
  • Positive sales ability


  • Interior (environment, including staff), exterior, landscape, building, parking lot, restrooms
  • Visually appealing
  • Clean
  • Comfortable (temperature)
  • Sufficient lighting
  • Location accessibility
  • Safe

Establishing and consistently following guestfriendly policies for:

  • Accepting expired coupons
  • Substitutions
  • Charges for extras
  • Sitting in closed stations
  • Plate and sharing charges
  • Automatic gratuity
  • Lounge beverages paid for at lounge or table
  • Honoring menu prices prior to a price change
  • Reservation and seating procedures
  • Complaint recovery procedures
  • Guidelines for making exceptions

Adhering to commitments regarding:

  • Menu descriptions
  • Advertising campaigns (media, print, telecommunications and radio)
  • Established opening and closing hours
  • Promotions and special events
  • Pricing-valued
  • Receiving a valued experience for the money spent

Pam Simos is President of Five Star Training, a St. Petersburg, FL-based firm specializing in reducing labor and maximizing profits. She has 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry and a BS in hotel/restaurant management. Contact Simos at: www.five-startraining. com, or call 800-385-7827.