Can you imaging having one of your staff tell a customer that they didn’t matter much and if it was too much of an effort for staff to help out the customer, then it just wasn’t going to happen!
A few days ago a group of us decided to get together after a hectic week of work to enjoy a drink and some dinner on the patio of a local restaurant / social house in the neighbourhood. The sun was shining, it was warm and an evening on the patio just seemed like a great way to wrap up the week.
On arrival we were given what could arguably be described as the worst possible table in the house, not just on the patio – stuck in a corner next to the entrance and beside a table that was occupied by a group of people who apparently provided service staff to the restaurant. It seems that rather than hire their own people, they outsourced the hiring of service staff to a modelling agency and with the boss and some others in the restaurant, every single server made a clear effort to stop by and chat for a bit. Good to be seen I guess – make sure that the boss knows you really want to be a model and not a waitress.
Awaiting a few others, we ordered a drink and asked if we could please move to another table on the patio – one a little less cramped and certainly one out-of-the-way of others coming in and hanging out with the boss and others sitting around next to us.
Much to my utter disbelief we were told that they don’t move people to other tables because it was too much work. I asked our server what that meant and she just said that if we were moved then she would have to do all kinds of work to transfer our bill – her exact words were that “for us to move it would be a pain in the ass for her and others, so we just don’t move people”.
I asked how that approach reflected the service policies of the company and was told that she “didn’t know what that meant” so I asked if meeting customer needs was an important part of their business practice and she just looked at me. I asked her to have the manager stop by and she told me he was out at the moment and would be back in about an hour. An odd response I thought to myself, given he was not only in the restaurant, but was standing about 5 or 6 feet away chatting up the modelling agency table.
We finished our drink, sent texts to a few of our friends who had yet to arrive and told them to meet us at a different place – just around the corner from where we were. We paid our bill, decided not to leave a tip and headed off to the new location. Once there, we enjoyed the atmosphere, service, food and drinks and spent over $500. We also left a nice tip for the girls who served us.
At the end of the night I was left to wonder…if companies are willing to take the risk of turning off clients through poor training and a clear misalignment of internal communication and engagement efforts when the economy is off – how do they stay in business. Poor communication, training and service standard delivery cost the company at least $500 that night – and given others I have spoken with probably a good deal more over the course of a week or two.
It is all quite simple and I’m certain that if the ownership team wants to achieve a solid and sustainable return on their investment, proper training and communications would go a long way to making it possible.