In a world filled with top-class bars, cafés and restaurants, we occasionally experience service that can only be described as unforgettable. However just as great service can be unforgettable for a customer, the same can be said for bad service. Negative experiences within the hospitality sector can not only ruin a meal but can often ruin our entire perception of a business. Having had one of these negative experiences recently, I questioned just how businesses communicate with their customers and how their staff are trained to deal with such a situation.

I was visiting a garden centre with a daytime restaurant with 40 or so seats. After being shown to a table, I ordered the fish, described on the menu as “white fish in batter.” Shortly after the young waitress brought out my food, I realised I would not be able eat it. I had been expecting a texture that was soft and flaky, but the fish I had been given was hard and chewy. There is nothing wrong with the cooking and presentation, just the type of fish used. I asked the waitress if she could change the meal to something else, to which she replied that she would have to check with her manager. When she returned, she informed me that her manager refused to change the meal as, “there was nothing wrong with it.” Instead of coming to my table personally, he was happy to relay his decision through another member of staff. When I voiced my disappointment, she left to appeal his decision. Coming back to my table she informed me that the problem had been resolved. Using her own initiative and judgement to “go past” front of house and straight to the kitchens, she was able to order me a new dish.

In the modern day of social media, online reviews and connectivity, never has customer service been more paramount. At the click of a button, customers can not only leave a rating on a business, but post descriptions and photos directly to the internet for all to see. Complaints within the service industry have always threatened to stain a business, but with the mass accessibility of the internet, these stains are growing harder and harder to clean off.

The managers refusal to personally oversee the situation and his lack of empathy towards his customers is alarming when considering these risks. Perhaps some businesses focus too heavily on black and white protocol instead of considering their relationships with valuable customers. If this is the case then maybe more emphasis should be out put on training staff to be friendly, rather than simply efficient.

Let me know what you think.

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