How we interact with people depends largely on our attitude towards that person and the circumstances surrounding the encounter. For example, a member of staff working in a restaurant having a bad day will not be delivering quality customer focus if their frustrations are manifested through body language and tone of voice. The customer consciously or subconsciously picks up on this and has a choice to make, either to remain and suffer the sub-standard service, ask to be served by a different member of staff or leave and go to another restaurant.
Breaking this cycle is part of what makes up our understanding of emotional intelligence, being aware of, controlling and expressing ones emotions and handling interpersonal relationships with empathy. Understanding how we apply emotional intelligence in our daily lives will make us more aware of our surroundings and why others first impressions matter.
This works both ways, using the example above the customer now has a fourth choice, making conversation regardless of the standard of service and express empathy by focusing on what matters to that member of staff. The waiter or waitress has their own conscious or sub conscious choice to make in response, they will do everything possible to provide top customer focus to that individual and their guests or the kindness shown will go unnoticed, yet sub consciously serving those guests will become less of a means to an end and improve the professional approach. As result the level of customer/staff engagement will increase and the encounter will become a more pleasurable experience for both parties.
Of course we cannot account for those members of staff who are just work to boost their college or university funds and ultimately good customer service, no matter what business sector is only possible with good leadership and training. But I do think that we are all too ready in the UK to accept sub standard service, especially at restaurants that are part of a chain.
Piling the blame entirely onto the food/retail sector does not give the whole picture, other industries have suffered their own sub standard results in the annual customer service reports, see the latest free download by sector, figures here.
Tripadvisor reviews will normally give a guide to recent quality, this is however very subjective and we’ve all experienced reading the review of a restaurant we frequent, that bares no resemblance to our own experience.
The cycle has to be broken somewhere, is it too much to expect that customer facing staff are trained to reasonable level, where empathy and people skills is at the core of their focus? As patrons of these establishments we have, as part of the human race a responsibility to engage and be respectful, like some many things in life we all need to start from where we are. Yet there seems to be a growing trend of doing just about enough to get by, no matter what our experience, when it comes to good customer service, our attitude sets the tone.