Have you ever wondered why gratuities are called, “tips?” It’s an acronym meaning, “To insure prompt service.” Providing your customers with good customer service is important for many reasons, and in the food service industry, we have a huge incentive to provide excellent customer service: our tips. However, I think that the reliance servers and bartenders have on their tips has created a sort of resentment that often comes out in the form of bad service, because even when we do provide good service, sometimes it’s not rewarded. Considering restaurants are legally allowed to pay their servers small wages, many of them (especially corporations) do. Because of this, a lot of restaurant employees argue that because we make such small wages, people should be expected to tip regardless of service. However, when you reflect on the meaning of the acronym, “TIPS,” the customer should not be expected to tip for mediocre service. I believe this debate and the resentment this creates in a server is a large factor of what drives bad service. I get paid higher than the national minimum at the job I work at now, and I can tell there’s a difference in my attitude.
I have been in the food service industry for many years. Most of my serving experience has happened near the stadium or shopping areas. Some of these customers were regulars; I may have known their name, but I have never gotten to know them the way I have gotten to know the regulars where I work now. I work for a privately owned restaurant that has two locations. The locations are in a residential area within three miles from each other, and most of our customers are considered regulars. I work at one location on weekdays and the other on weekends, and I’m the only person on my shifts for the weekdays. It gets very overwhelming. One Sunday morning, I had two ladies who I normally serve at the location where I am alone went into the other location. When I approached the table, they expressed excitement that I was going to be their server. Considering how busy I am on Wednesday for lunch, I normally feel like I’m only giving people the service that I can, which doesn’t usually feel good enough for me. After hearing these ladies’ enthusiasm that I was going to be their server, after I have been feeling like I wasn’t taking good enough care of them was extremely rewarding. Since I was less busy, I chatted with them for a while and told them that it made my day that they were happy to see me. I expressed that it meant a lot because I know they tend to get slow service from me; they assured me they understood and can see that I am normally very busy.
Customer service is very important to many different industries, not just the food service one; that’s just where most of my experience lies. According to the Forbes’ article, “50 Stats that Prove the Value of Customer Experience,” by Blake Morgan, 73% of consumers state that a good experience is a key factor in developing their loyalty for a brand. The same article also shares that 77% of consumers say a bad customer experience can detract from their quality of life. Upon reading that, I thought to myself, “okay, that’s a little dramatic,” but then I reflect on my own personal behavior. I know that I get very crabby when my time is wasted, and if I feel like people aren’t doing their job. As a consumer, I undoubtedly fall into the 77% that I called dramatic. Morgan also shared that the feeling of unappreciation is the top reason that consumers switch brands, and a total of $1.6 trillion was lost by US companies due to customers switching because of bad customer service.
“77% of consumers view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback.”Blake Morgan, Forbes
So how can you avoid customer service? According to “21 Key Customer Service Skills (and How to Develop Them),” a blog I found on Help Scout; the first key skill to have are problem-solving skills. This is essential because a customer service representative’s job is, ultimately, to solve a problem or fill a need. The following essential skill to have, according to Help Scout, is patience. In my experience, I would say this skill could almost be tied with first. There are many times when people know they have a problem but may not even know what it is let alone how to solve it. Sometimes it helps just talking through the issue with the customer. Another thing I often do when handling a complaint is thanking the customer for their patience while resolving the issue; obviously I don’t do this if they aren’t patient out of fear of sounding sarcastic, but I thank them for bringing the issue to my attention so it can be avoided in the future. Morgan’s article in Forbes’ also shares that 77% of consumers favor brands that take and apply consumer feedback. Our classmate, Slynne757, also shared in her blog post “Customer Service: The Foundation of Business,” that the most important tip she thinks a customer service professional should practice is putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.
In my experience, I have given great service and I have given terrible service. As a consumer, I have also received both, and I think that gives me a great advantage into putting myself into the shoes of others when problems arise. While some customers can be difficult, those customers can be the most valuable and most impressed if you can turn their issue around.