Saturday, February 09, 2008

Service?...Excuse me!

Ever wonder why there is a service tax item in your bills, especially those you get from a food outlet? How do you define service in this regard? Does it mean taking you to your table, take an order from you and then send you your order? Does it include creating an atmosphere of relax so that you could really forget other things and focus your attention to the food or whatever else you want to do while at the table? Does it mean you, as the served would be free of any irritant while at the table? After all you are paying for the food which is supposed to include all the costs associated with getting the materials from d farm to your plate!

I don't know really. I mean whether those people in the service industry do understand what service means. You can carry out your own test. My experience most of the times suggest that many of them including those foreign based franchise outlets do not really have a clue what service means. To them (their employees anyway) you are seved once your food is delivered to the table. It does not matter if it is delivered late, if it is delivered in a rough manner, if the food is less than tasty, if the plates or cups or glasses give an indication of less hygiene....I could go on...

Let me take you to the following situations then you see:

1. Open 8.00 am to 12.00 midnight

You are on your way to a morning meeting and saw this outlet with a breakfast package and thot why not get a cup of piping hot coffee and a piece of donut. You peeped through the glass walls and saw movements in there. It is 8.10am. You are lucky. The breakfast must be ready now. You walked in and tried to place an order. Lo and is not ready, donut is still in the freezer or something! You inquired. Ohh...its not yet ready, we don't usually get customers before 8.30. Then why the hell telling people you are open from 8.00 am? To me 8.10 am is well after 8.00 am and should be ready to serve. So, is it false advertsing, misleading information or simply cheating?

If you are supposed to serve at 8.00 am then you should make every effort to be ready by then. Whether people will walk in then or later is not your concern. Your concern should be what if a non-regular customer needs a cup of coffee at 8.00 am? I wonder whether the decision maker of that oragnisation is aware of such 'service'. I hope they do before its too late.

2. Sorry, We missed your order

You finally decided to settle for some food in the outlet. You went thru the menu, rattled out the orders and waited. Its six of you making the orders which was repeated well and clear. So, 5 of the entree' were delivered. The sixth one did not come and you have to inquire. To get the attention of those people is another task. They are always moving around keeping themselves busy but never see your hand trying to attract attention. Then the main dishes are delivered, together with the sixth entree'. No common sense! How is it supposed to be eaten? Then you realised only 5 main dishes arrived. What happened to the other one? Ohh...let us check out. Mm..turned out there was no order? How come? It was read out by your waitress? Sorry we mixed the order.........So, how are you supposed to feel? Would they compensate with a discount? Not in a million years! Would they waive the service tax? You bet... Then you saw a customer feedback form that comes together with the bill. You filled up and handed over. Do you think they will come back to you, even though you left all your e-mail, phone contacts? I'm still waiting.....

There are many more examples or real life experience on this; like, sorry we don't have this tonite/today, we run out of something...... Why then would you not shown on d menu, or at least inform us while handing out the menu before we even think of placing an order? Where is the responsibility to the customers? What? Customer Service?

The bottom line is, we have a long way to go to really live up to the real meaning of service, which should be distinguished from doing what is expected. Service to me is things done in a better than expected way, when its least expected but badly needed. It is beyond expectation, the extra mile, whatever that can be deemed. At the end of that, the serviced would have not even an iota of dissatisfaction but the happiness is written all over the face...then the service would be well rendered!

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