Two critical lessons in exceptional service from episode 9 of The Bear

restaurant table and chairs

After the intensity of The Bear season 1 on Hulu – the ferocity and volume of dialogue, tight framing, juddering camerawork, and passion the characters have for the sandwich shop, for the dishes, and for one another – at first, it seems like opening the new restaurant might be a welcome relief in season 2; a refreshing reset. Of course, it doesn’t take long at all for tensions to boil over, and ultimately season 2 is even more intense and heart-wrenching than season 1.

Because the crew is opening a fine dining restaurant this time around, there are also many quiet epiphanies about providing excellent service. In so many ways, the show slows down and examines the tiny details required to take something from merely good to truly exceptional. Of course, if you’ve already watched The Bear (and I promise, no spoilers for those of you who haven’t), you’ve likely flashed to the episode Forks when thinking about those detail-oriented moments:

Polishing forks for hours on end is no one’s idea of a good time, but spotty cutlery just won’t cut it (sorry, that’s two terrible cooking puns now!) at a Michelin-starred restaurant. But while so much of episode 7 centers around exceeding expectations, I keep thinking about two scenes in episode 9, Omelette, and both of them offer important lessons we should all keep front of mind in our work, no matter our role:

In the first scene, I keep thinking of, Sydney making an omelet for Natalie. 

It’s so simple on the face of it, a chef preparing a meal for a colleague, but in this scene, Syd’s genuine care for Natalie is truly evident. First, she recognizes that Natalie is having a rough moment and asks if she can make her something to eat, insisting she’s happy to do so even after Natalie demurs at first. When Natalie asks for an omelet, Syd immediately agrees. And she doesn’t just whip up some shoddy omelet-adjacent scramble, no! She carefully creates a gourmet dish, adding in fancy cheese, folding the eggs delicately, and garnishing with freshly chopped chives and crunchy fresh chips. She pours a delicious-looking fresh juice combo and serves it all to Natalie on a lovely tray, complete with a cloth, napkin, and fork.

Photo from FX, The Bear

So, what’s the professional lesson here?

Treat your colleagues with the same respect and care that you treat your customers with. Go above and beyond to support them. Consider what will make their work easier and do it whenever it’s in your power to do so. Check in. Anticipate their needs. Ask yourself how your natural skills could improve your day and go the extra mile.  

Lesson two comes a bit later in the episode as Syd and Carmy prepare for the restaurant’s soft open. The scene opens with Carmy under a table asking Syd to give him a hand to even it out. A lot is happening between the characters, but their partnership on a foundational component of service stood out to me. Throughout the series we see them collaborating in the kitchen while developing new menu items. They’re chefs; their work is in the kitchen. But, if a guest sits down and their table rocks when slicing a steak or cutting a carrot, it sours the entire experience. For their guests to have an exceptional meal, to earn a Michelin star, Carmen and Sydney can’t neglect the front-of-house minutia, and they work together to level the table.

The lesson here? Consider every aspect of your customer’s experience with your company. Partner with colleagues to ensure you understand the customer journey and work hard to improve it. A client may be coming to you with one challenge, but dozens of others may be impacting their view of the service you provide. Understand what they need from you, and your organization. Plug in.    

Providing exceptional service is foundational to every company’s success, and Ideba can help improve yours with bespoke white-glove service training. Learn more at https://idebamarketing.com/white-glove-customer-service-training/

Mylene Kerschner – Senior Research and Consulting Manager