Over the weekends, I brought my family to Swensons restaurant. And well, I must admit that the restaurant was quiet enough for us... we really dislike crowded places...
When the waitress came along to take the order, however, it was terrible. Her body language was bad, and what was even worst was she was not knowledgeable about the products (and so is her manager). We were ordering a meal that we could add on another ice-cream. On the menu, it was stated explicitly that we could order any other side-menu at a certain cost. However, the waitress said, "You cannot. My manager says so." Period. Ghosh. So, I begged to differ and ask her to check with her manager what is printed on the menu. She came back without apologies actually - "My manager say you can."
The whole incident was in my mind for 2 days. I am just wondering... no wonder they says Singapore's customer service is terrible. We pride ourselves for efficiency. We pride ourselves being hardworking. We are clean (might even be artifically too clean? but that is debatable). It might be part of the fault of the company not to train their staff well (perhaps, they did not instill in them the pride of good service). And there is also no incentive to do so... most of the time (they get the same pay anyway). But what kept me thinking is what I read in the book I am reading by Nanz Chong - One business 99 lessons:
"There is a manager at a Japanese BBQ restaurant that I particularly like called Aburiya who is superb at customer service. It is his anticipation of the customer's needs that impresses me - he is so observant, even the slightest need does not go unnoticed.
One day, my one-year old started to stand up on the high chair, and Mr Manager was already walking towards us with serviettes in his hand... Another time, we dropped a fork, and when we looked up, there he was with a replacement fork. He must have had some kind of invisible sensor taped around his head!"
I NEVER have experienced this good service for many many years. I certainly didn't even when I at Goodwood Park Hotel eating buffet with my son on his birthday last month. In fact, I walked to replace the fork that dropped - well... at least to the embrassment of the manager... at least he was apologetic about it, so credit goes to him. Everybody was busy. Nobody noticed the need of a customer.
In the case of Swenson? They scored way way below zero. And this is not the only branch that seems to provide such poor customer service.
All these are perhaps side issues. What is in my mind is where do we start to bring good customer service back to Singapore?
I seem to come to this answer - It starts from home.
The attitude of servanthood is not much looked up to. Some people don't realized that good service is really a pride, and I do agree with Nanz ... some time back, Giodano did have such high standard - it was a joy to walk into the shop. Even though I knew I won't get anything, getting into the shop really make my day! I wish I could buy the whole shelf to reward the staff.
Courtesy and service starts from home. Most parents don't particular take note of this aspect and well... "it might be best not to groom our children to serve others... but to be served". What a shame. To them the one sitting on end of the dinning table is the "master", those who bring along the food is the "slave". One is higher, the other ... lower to put it best.
For those who really serious about bringing good customer service - I think it starts from home.