On Friday I went out with Mrs Jez and two of our friends for a meal to Prezzo in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. It was fairly busy but they weren't fully booked and we were duly shown to our seats at 8.30pm when we arrived. I'd been live on QVC at 6pm and had a bit of a rush to get back in Friday traffic and by the time we'd all arrived, we were all more than ready for food.
The cracks began to show fairly quickly when the drinks we ordered took 25 minutes to arrive, but it was early on in the evening and we all had plenty of catching up to do.
I ordered a starter and when that was cleared away, we waited... We waited 50 minutes for our main course - it was nearly 10pm when it arrived. Is it just me or is that too long? And if it's not too long, is it beyond the realm of the service industry to inform us or apologise for the wait? When I made a point of asking how much longer it would be, the waitress informed me 5 minutes. It took just over 10 minutes and three of the meals looked undercooked - an anaemic Calzone isn't especially appetising.
Now, we all get it wrong from time to time - but none of the staff appeared at all bothered. There was no apology for the wait and when they had neglected to replace my cutlery from my starter, I was more than a little perterbed at having to wait so long for a new knife and fork. Is it just me or is a knife and fork a fairly standard piece of equipment when you're eating in a restaurant in the Western world?
For fear of abusing this blog as a way for me to rant and rave about my irritations and service insecurities, I felt my experience raised a really valid point about complacency.
It is your responsibility to ensure that standards are at the very least at the level that your customers expect - and if you want to make a real difference and stand out, you should ensure you're doing all you can to exceed the expectations of your customers at all times. Empower your staff to do this autonomously and remind them regularly of the importance to be polite and treat each customer as the human being that they are. I have to say that my experience of Prezzo in Marlow did make me feel a bit like an animal. I certainly didn't feel valued or respected and its resulted in my telling you and thousands of others who visit this website, of my experience.
This could be happening to your business right now - someone may well be writing a blog about a poor service experience they had with you.
It is far too easy for us to take our eyes off the ball when the pressure mounts and things get busy, but an apology; keeping customers informed and gestures to appease, such as a free refill, go a long way to ensuring happy customers and securing relationships with them.
If Prezzo had admitted how busy they were and done something about it, this blog would be teaching an entirely different lesson, but I don't want you to miss out on that so, this is how it could have looked:
The manager saw it was busy, or perhaps saw how the waiting staff were rushing around, or saw the tickets piling up in the kitchen - or maybe a customer brought it to his attention. I overheard another customer asking if they could skip one of the courses they'd ordered as it was getting too late.
The manager finds the best waiting person he has on that night and takes them to one side, explaining the situation. He tasks that waiting person to go round all of the tables, apologising where necessary and offering a free refill while they wait, to explain to the customers what the problem is, reassure that their food will be with them shortly and help ensure everyone is happy.
He then speaks to each of the staff one by one, to thank them for working so hard, remind them to smile and be polite and get through this busy service together.
He then checks in with the head chef and gets a handle on what's going on, to see if anything can be done to speed things up at the same time as maintaining quality.
Is that too much to ask, or is it just me?
Member since: 6th June 2013
Jez Rose is an internationally renowned Behaviour Change Consultant, professional speaker, award-winning entrepreneur, author and media personality.
Despite being the “go-to” guy for memorable and behaviour-changing...