High standards at no additional costs

It never ceases to amaze us how many operations exhibit product and service standards that are so destructive to reputation, create a poor impression and are yet so easily rectified. Many of these points are largely a question of common sense, and yet, ironically, common sense is often not that common. The argument that you get what you pay for does not hold true in this regard as the items are a matter of basic standards and not a question of luxury, which is often driven by cost and investment. The elements of quality and high standards are relevant to all levels. It is interesting to note that annoyingly, the items and areas to which we refer seem sometimes to be commonplace in underperforming assets or with operations with poor reputations. Here are a few of those items that are so avoidable and disappointing to us.

No sense of arrival and poor exterior impact

The impression is sometimes given that no one gives any time to evaluate the customer journey at arrival. Giveaways are unmaintained signs, negative messages including no parking, rubbish, dirty exterior windows, faulty lighting, empty or dirty menu displays and no assistance or clear message as to directions or assistance.

Irrelevant and blunt greetings

The classic amongst these are, “Do you have a reservation?” — particularly when the restaurant is empty — instead of, “Welcome!” Particularly annoying is being asked first for a room number, instead of, “Good morning! How are you today?” We find the meet-and-greet function much more on the ball and consistent in the United States than in Europe, generally speaking.

A ‘tat’ strategy

So many operations have tatty and tacky notices taped around the place saying “out of order” or some form of “sorry.” Really, it says we do not care. We recently saw such displays in an expensive new-build.

Staff having private conversations

This is extremely rude and unprofessional. We recently checked into a hotel during a shift change and were completely ignored by six front-desk staffers enjoying a shift-end/start conversation.

Lack of eye contact 

Eye contact is one of the most important ingredients to good customer service, and not only does it demonstrate sincerity, but it also enables the customer to gain attention. It assists in alleviating the negative above as well. At dinner recently we spent seven minutes trying to attract attention to order a second bottle of wine.

You would be correct in thinking that none of this is rocket science, and yet we see it too often. Why is it that? It is as much about employing for and developing attitude and changing behavior than training in technical skills. It also needs owners and management that care enough to manage by walking around and getting involved.

What do you think? What are your pet peeves that, if corrected,can change defective service into great service?