Having walked into a well-established and respected restaurant with a footprint in Walmer, Stanley Street, and Summerstrand respectively. I have come to see a noticeable drop in their overall quality and standard of service since their humble yet blazing beginnings in the then newly renovated Parliament Street. It seemed that with each passing year, their requirements for staff (management and waiters alike) seem to decline as their brand grew. Mention needs to be made of a few staff members who really stand out, yet the overall quality of food, lack of attention to client needs, and general disregard for basic requests left much to be desired.
I spend most of my time working in coffee shops and restaurants as I find that I actually get more done with all the buzz and noise around. However, I have come to notice an overall trend of poor and lackadaisical service from a number of different establishments. As a result, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this, especially considering the excellent service recently received in other parts of the country.
Let me just clarify that this is not an exaggerated observation based on a few bad experiences. Nor is it me trying to find fault with establishments in Port Elizabeth. It is neither a blanket exaggeration that all establishments in our part of the country dish out bad service. That being said, I have come across establishments who never disappoint on the front of excellent service, yet I have unfortunately had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of some horrific service.
Allow me to just place a disclaimer that some of the establishments I will “mention” have awarded great service at some stage, while others are not even listed as it has become somewhat of an expected “value added” bad service when having the misfortune of visiting them.
Another example poor service experienced would be a recent visit to a particular franchise named after a particular something Austin Powers lost in the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. (I will leave it there). While standing at the door looking all awkward waiting to be seated, one of the waiters comes walking down the aisle at me and belts out “take a seat anywhere”. A little taken aback and not ready for the attention drawn, I allowed her to make her way to me-, I greet her and politely asked for a seat close to a plug point. My 65min visit was then made up of 9mins waiting for a menu, 15mins waiting for my coffee and 12 mins (after the coffee) for my food to arrive. I ate; request the bill and proceeded to wait a further 17mins to pay. I eventually decided to get up and make my way to one of the waiters and practically had to beg to pay my bill.
After a friendly chat with the manager, in which I rather calmly and friendly made her aware of the poor service received, she somewhat casually responds that they are short staffed. (Anti-climax I know, but a rather typical response I have become accustomed to.)
When hiring staff, business owners, in particular, those who run service driven establishments, need to pay careful attention to those they employ. An excellent employee is not necessarily the one who is, the best-spoken, highly educated and come from a specific racial background. Often times than not, it is the very one of which you least expect it.
Impression is Everything
Clients will judge, and have been doing so, an establishment on a number of different aspects; all of which play an eventual part in the “taste” of the food. Your customers will judge the food placed in front of them, with the same taste of the service received up until that stage. In other words, poor service prior to a meal being served will result in poor taste of the meal. The opposite holds true as well.
Plural not Singular
Overall a) friendliness of staff, b) professionalism – when addressing clients as well as when speaking with colleagues –, c) attention to the service area and clients’ needs throughout the dining experience, d) know how of the menu and specials. All these are key areas that go a long way in enhancing the quality and experience clients come to savor.
Your brand is made up of more than just its Name, logo, slogan and its organizational colours.
Think of your organization as having a personality made up of different character-trades. The same way we form perceptions off people based on different opinions and readings we receive; your customers will form their image of your brand based on various pictures put to them by your organization and its staff. Hiring one wrong person can eventually do more harm to your brand than a number of distasteful experiences combined. Likewise, one exceptional staff member can achieve more than an expansive marketing campaign could ever hope to achieve. Though the one cannot exist without the other, the former tends to be neglected a great deal.
In a city and province known for its “lazy people”, poor service delivery and laid-back attitude to business in general, there are a few exceptions. Organizations and establishments that go above and beyond when delivery client service. My dream is, however, to get to a stage where clients get shocked and disappointed at poor service, rather than so accustomed to it that it goes unnoticed. a day where client satisfaction is not reduced to the clichéd “the customer is always right” and rather an attitude and business ethos that “we are only as good as our last service”.