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 Poor Service Still Biggest Complaint
 
by Tom Shanahan, May 1999

The recently published 1999 Zagat Survey says that poor service is by far diners’ most common complaint about restaurants. In the Seattle area, for example, 67 percent of complaints were about poor service compared to only 12 percent of complaints about food quality and 5 percent dissatisfaction because of a smoky environment.

We know that because of the great number of available restaurants, patrons seldom return to a restaurant where they had a bad experience. How do we solve this problem of poor service? 

One solution when hiring new staff is to not assume that “experienced” service people are necessarily good at what they do, like to serve others, or are motivated to provide good service. We often hire based on the belief that “practice makes perfect” when, in fact, “practice makes permanent”. (If I have a bad golf swing and hit a million golf balls I still have a bad golf swing.) Don’t get me wrong, there are many fine service people working in hotels and restaurants but they are good at what they do not just because they’ve been doing the job a long time. These people know what good service is, have good service habits, like to serve and please others, and take pride in doing a good job. 

So one solution to better service is to hire those who desire to serve, like people, and are capable of providing good service. The other side of the service coin is creating a positive work environment in which our competent service people feel valued and are recognized for their efforts. As managers and owners we know that how we treat the employees is usually how they treat the customers. 

Tom Shanahan is a former hospitality manager who trains, speaks and consults with restaurants, hotels and clubs. 

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Contact:
Tom Shanahan 
shanahan@CustomerService.com 
or call toll-free at 877-832-8219
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Also See: Employees Are Key To Success / Tom Shanahan / Dec 1998 

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