March 7, 2019 |
How many times have you been in a restaurant and cringed at the behaviour of your fellow diners? Something strange happens to normally (possibly) decent folk when they walk through the door. It is as if they have donned an invisible cloak of knobheadery and elevated themselves into the rarefied air of superiority.
Rude customers clicking fingers and barking instructions in an exasperated and dismissive manner is something we have unfortunately come to expect. This behaviour is a sad reflection of the society we live in, one that is stratified by race, sex, and a self-ordained sense of relative prosperity.
Eckhardt Tolle, in his seminal work The Power of Now, wrote that “gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity”.
So who in that present moment, where the guest is being an arse, is prosperous? The server, who in the present moment of being abused, is holding their cool and continuing to be professional? Or the guest, who, I dare say, has more money than the server in their bank account?
I was told of an incident recently that made me think about gratitude. In a well-known bar, a couple had finished up their last drink and asked for the bill. The server brought it over and the couple, who possibly had consumed a glass of wine too many, didn’t check it, but paid it anyway. About 10 minutes later, the same server returned and said that he had made a mistake and they had paid the wrong bill. He presented them with the new bill, which was actually cheaper than the previous version. The old transaction was voided and the new one completed. The outcome of this story is that the grateful guest wrote an email of thanks to the GM, who sent it to the HR director, and the server was praised for his customer care. In an industry where the server could have been penalised for any shortfalls in the till, his action was exceptional.
The next time the guest went into this bar the server came over, shook his hand, thanked him for sending the email, and told him that he had been called a hero by his management. Suffice to say that when this couple now go to this bar they receive excellent service. So if customer gratitude makes a server feel like a hero, and they in turn provide better service why wouldn’t everyone be grateful?
Mainly because some of us believe that just because we can afford to go out to eat and drink in such a bar, it makes us in some way superior to the person who is serving us. We are completely oblivious to whether the server has travelled the seas to get this job, whether they have to send back 90% of their wages to support their family, or whether they live in a room with nine other workers. All we see is money and that we have more than them.
There is little gratitude for the work that chefs, servers and all other food service industry workers do to ensure that our sorry little lives are kept fed and watered. I am sitting in a cafe now, and customer next door has shouted after the server and asked where the hollandaise on his sandwich was. The server pointed it out, the guest snorted and shook his head, and dismissed the server with a wave of his hand. Sadly, this behaviour is an everyday occurrence.
Why can’t customers get over their ego and realise that gratitude leads to better service which leads to happier customers who in turn are grateful? It’s not that difficult a scenario to visualise and act upon.
So maybe gratitude is the missing piece of the customer service jigsaw puzzle. Let’s start with gratitude and thank people for bringing us our food and drink and then clearing up our mess instead of sniggering with ill disguised contempt when they can’t answer the supercilious question on whether the wine was a 2015 or 2016 Australian Shiraz. You wouldn’t know the difference anyway.
Maybe we are starting in the wrong place. If we replaced a false sense of expectancy with a true sense of gratitude then the service we receive would be a whole lot better. And we would look a lot less like knobs.
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