The Leader Magazine

SEP 2017

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F E A T U R E A R T I C L E 38 SEPTEMBER 2017 ThE lEadER Hospitality as a virtue reigns These changes wouldn't matter as much if we didn't also take a look at how each diner was being treated. This has meant bringing the personal touch of "excellence" from retail dining into campus dining. It is the difference between providing a mere service (just pushing food at guests) and truly hosting them in ways that make them feel heard and cared for. I've been so impressed with the "enlightened hospitality" philoso- phy of New York restauranteur Danny Meyer (author of "Setting the Table") that we've adopted many of his tenets at our dining venues. Basically, it's all about leaving guests feeling like they've been treated in a hospitable, personalized way, enhancing employee satisfaction and pride of company. For instance, our dining staff is trained in the art of how to truly pay attention to each guest and their apparent dining needs (in a hurry, on a downtime break, in a lunch meeting, needing privacy, etc.) and to adjust accordingly. We also genuinely try to surprise people, whether it's with an innovative new dish or maybe having a staff member go out of his or her way to make someone's day a little better. The shift to a more hospitality-focused approach has seen a huge upswing in employees' individual recharge time, collective productiv- ity, and overall workplace satisfaction. High-tech has its place at the table Being that this is Microsoft, technology plays a big role in dining on campus, both upfront for improving employee experiences and behind the scenes for improving dining operations. We use many high-tech, high-touch innovations to create positive, restaurant-like food experiences for employees. These include touch- screen ordering, cashier-less markets, automated dining satisfaction surveys, and beacon technology that allows our dining venues to send promotions directly to an app on people's phones or tablets. In the old days, for example, employees had no other choice but to stand in line to order their food, wait to receive it, and then wait in line again to pay at a register. That can be a lot of wasted time. To automate ordering and paying, we installed café-side kiosks and even created a special Microsoft dining phone app. Employees can use either method to quickly order and pay for their food, and then be alerted when their meal is ready. Behind the dining scenes, we use cloud and business intelligence technologies to manage dining operations. For instance, we can re- motely monitor all our urban farms from anywhere using a computer or phone – checking and adjusting light levels, humidity, pH levels, water fl ow, nutrients, and so on. Operations uses technology to better predict food quantity and usage, which reduces food waste. We've also built a unique point-of-use survey system to help us understand how diners actually feel when they leave one of our restaurants, which helps us validate and understand the changes we make. More than food alone... Like any corporation, Microsoft tries to attract and retain the best and brightest talent by offering amenities that are valuable, meaning- ful, and refl ective of employee values. By listening to what employees prioritize around their food and dining experiences, we have shone a light on what corporate food and beverage programs can become – a core function of workplace satisfaction. Step by step, we have devised new ways to prepare foods and source ingredients, built reciprocally benefi cial partnerships with lo- cal restaurants and suppliers, and raised the bar on each diner's per- sonal experience through better hospitality and technology practices. The path has led us all to more healthful food, more local variety, and more meaningful dining experiences. Most importantly, it has naturally led to workers who are happy to be at Microsoft because their dining options connect them to their food, their work, their community, and their company in better, more fulfi lling ways. Just imagine where the next level of rethinking corporate dining could take us. Mark Freeman is senior manager of Global Dining Services at Microsoft.

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