Thursday, June 2

Service: part 2 of 3

our priorities at Vintage are: Service, Product, Speed.  in that order.  Service is always first, Product is second, and Speed is always important - but never more so than Service or Product.

What Service is NOT
Not only have i been in the Food Service industry since 1987, but i have been a big fan of food.  And a lot of that food has come from other restaurants.  i like to see what they do, how they do it and what makes them tick.  Some do a great job, others not so much.  The first few years of our marriage, Carie did not enjoy eating out with me.  i simply was too harsh a critic and wouldn't just calm down, enjoy my meal (and company) and look for the positive aspects of our dining experience.  I have learned, however, in the past couple decades exactly what Good Service is NOT:

The Sycophant Faker: this style of service is full of proper manners and compliments and "yes, maam, right away, maam!" while they are in front of you, but the second they get out of hearing distance you know they are telling their co-workers how terrible you are.  They think they are telling you want to hear, but instead they are really telling you is that they hate their job.

Too Cool for School: this style of service makes it very clear that you are not worthy of their time.  You obviously don't know anything about the product you are ordering, and your fashion sense is laughable.  The rolling of the eyes, the exasperated sighs, correcting you and impatience is meant to tell you that you just don't measure up, but what it really says is "i am insecure, and it makes me feel better about myself when i make you want to please me".

Stressed and Full of Excuses:  this style of service is not as much as a style as it is a lack of skills.  The service industry can be fast paced, with multiple tasks to accomplish and lots of customers to serve.  Proper staffing is a mix of skill, artistry, accurate predictions and plain dumb luck.  Needless to say, nearly every place is either overstaffed or understaffed many times a day.  While often a valid reason, this does not make for a proper excuse.  A skilled service professional might apologize once or twice, but their main focus is hustling, prioritizing their actions and fulfilling the needs of their customer.

Bored and Inattentive: this style of service signals a worker who has forgotten why they are on the job.  They put on the uniform, show up (more or less) and watch the clock until it is time to leave.  They will do as little as they can to get by, and they think that somehow the world, their boss and their customers owe them something for the pitiful effort.

No Personality: this style can be heard to say "i don't really eat/drink anything on the menu, but lots of people like the number 27 with cheese" or "are you ready to order?" or "is everything OK?" or "have a nice day" in the most flat, uninterested voice they can muster.  This person is simply going through the motions, much like the Bored and Inattentive.

Overly Attentive Zealot: this style is following a formula they learned in corporate training about seven minutes ago.  It looks something like this, "Why, Hello! It's a great day at __________ , my name is ________ and i'm gonna be your best friend for the next 47 minutes! (squats down next to the table) Can i interest you in our New Honey-Chipotle-Ranch Jimmywanger?"  This style is quick to refill your water/tea/coffee clear to the rim of the cup, every 3 minutes.  They are offering dessert options when you are about 3 bites into your meal.  They seem very enthusiastic and energetic, this won't last.  Come back in a few weeks and they look more like one of the above styles.

The Charity Case: this style isn't as much working as it is begging.   While they may not mention it, they make it clear that they make less than minimum wage.  They may be quick to mention one or five of the hard times from their life.  They look at you with sad puppy eyes and tug at your heartstrings, or at least they try.  Somehow this individual came to think that tips are charity, instead of an indication of hard work and talent.

 Now, i'm not pointing fingers.  i've found myself falling into all of the above styles at one time or another.  But then i remember that my income is directly relational to exactly how hard i work.  Good Service is not formulaic or contrived or easy.  It takes work and dedication, and occasionally putting your foot in your mouth. 

But it IS worth working towards!

What say you?  What poor service styles have you observed?

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