Saturday, 14 June 2008

360 reviews: customers do the darndest things

In my old life, working for the government, we used to have 360-degree performance reviews where everybody in the organization, from management to the mailroom, got feedback on how well they were doing their job. In hospitality, however, it’s a one-way street.

Customers can tell the waiters what they think of their performance through the tipping system and restaurant critics are allowed to say whatever they want about the talents of the chef and the standard of the service when they review a restaurant. But what about the views of the shop assistants, chefs and waiters: the ones earning £5.50 an hour, on their feet for 10 hours, and expected to accept that the customer is always right despite everyone knowing that claim is statistically impossible?

I’d like to see customers receive a score, given by the staff, for how well they performed: were they polite and appreciative, were they adventurous in their meal choices, did they overstay their welcome...

If you want to score highly you should avoid the following:
Talking loudly on your mobile phone while being served and then whispering to the person serving you as though they are the person you shouldn’t really be having a conversation with.

Asking for some jam, watching the waiter run up and down the stairs to get it, then asking for a glass of tap water, watching the waiter run up and down the stairs to get it, then asking for a new knife because you’ve just dropped yours…And don’t preface the request with “I hate to make you run up the stairs again but…” Clearly you are enjoying being waited on hand and foot. I know I do.

Ignoring the meals listed on the menu, which have been carefully thought out by someone who is trained and skilled in this area, and asking if you can order something that you have created. That’s what your own kitchen is for.

Losing perspective: On an insanely busy Saturday I was told by one irate customer that I had ruined his day because he and his friend’s breakfast had not arrived at the same time. Annoying, sure, but hardly worthy of ruining your day. It’s only breakfast and you have the whole day ahead of you sunshine.
After nearly twelve months working at Tom’s Deli I’m finally leaving so I can focus on getting the café started. For the next few weeks I’m going to enjoy being the customer, safe in the knowledge that I will not be shamed by a low score even if I behave like a complete twat.

Bye bye Tom’s. Missing you already.


Tricia said...

Hi Shelagh,

I just discovered your blog today and are addicted to it! I have started from the beginning and working my way to the present. I am from NZ and have just moved to London after living in Collingwood, Melbourne for the last 4 years. You have mentioned a few places already from the area, Birdman eating, MoVida that I to love. I also want to set up a cafe, so are thrilled to find a blog that records the envents as the process unfolds. I will defintely be making a stop at your cafe soon. keep up the good work!!. I do miss the Australian brunch, and I am glad someone is onto it here!.

Shelagh Ryan said...

Hi Tricia, I'm so pleased to hear you found the blog... and like it. Please introduce yourself wen you come in - I'm dying to get an update on the Melbourne cafe scene.