Blogs

Jo Geraghty

Director

The Service Disconnect

Date added: 04th Jun 2015
Category: Customer Experience

When profits matter more than service, when the need to save costs outweighs considerations of customer care, when your vision of the future has no place for customer insights then there is only one way your business is going to go.

Another restaurant starts out on the slippery slope towards self-destruction.  Once so popular that the chances of dining without a reservation were slim, now the tables are virtually deserted as an ever-waning clientele fade away to pastures new.

Why the decline?  On the face of it this restaurant had everything going for it.  A lovely old building just off the main street, nearby parking, a great reputation and a menu which was designed to offer good food at reasonable prices all bore the hallmarks of success; and it was successful with a good reputation and loyal customers.

Unfortunately that very success was the cause of its downfall.  Having built the business up the proprietors decided to move on and sold for a good price. Then the new owners swept in and in a remarkably short time sowed the seeds of their own destruction.  Driven by a need to keep costs under control they changed the menu, dropping some of the staples which attracted repeat custom.  Then they cut down on one of the biggest costs, the staff, reducing employee numbers both in the restaurant and in the kitchen or replacing experienced staff with new hires.

The result was that the previously smooth and prompt service turned into something altogether different.  Waiting staff were not kept informed of menu changes and had to keep checking with the kitchen on minor details, service from all areas slowed dramatically and tempers started to fray.  This led to a rise in customer complaints as poorly prepared food was sent back, people got fed up with waiting and walked out or had such a poor experience that they decided to go elsewhere in future.  In a few short weeks, the reputation which had taken years to build had vanished.

Sadly this scenario is not unusual in the pub or restaurant trade; nor is it unusual in many other businesses although the results may be a little less dramatic as some ingrained habits take longer to break.  But whatever the business, whether restaurant or bank, entertainment venue or supermarket, the one common factor when trade starts to slide is the disconnect between the business and its customers.

When profits matter more than service, when the need to save costs outweighs considerations of customer care, when your vision of the future has no place for customer insights then there is only one way your business is going to go.  And there is only one place your customers are going to go and that is straight into the arms of rival organisations.

Businesses nowadays can’t rely on the anonymity of poor service only being spread amongst the few; the internet has seen to that.  Companies can no longer rely on making short term profits at the expense of long term service; the public and the regulators expect more.  Whether you run a small restaurant or a multi-national conglomerate the message is the same, ‘customer service comes first.’  Anything else and whilst you may be in business a little longer, the writing is on the wall.

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