Have Customers Become a Pain in the Ass?

I am back.

Sorry I have been away so long but I returned to work for a while. Yes I went back to the food industry and got my hands dirty again. I loved it!!

No I did not love the 14 hour days or the constant running back and forth, unable to even sit down. I did not love the fact that I was surviving on pain killers for my feet and back and the ever present worry who would show up for their shift today.

I especially did not like the way the customers have changed over the last few years. Their cell phones rule their lives to the point of being rude to the service staff and the other customers behind them. The number of times a customer has walked up to place an order talking on the phone and literally stood there chatting while the service person is trying to take their order only to receive dirty looks from the phone user with no regard for the 10 or 15 people behind them.

To clarify, the food establishment had a super high volume grill, artisan wood fired pizza and pastas done sauté style as well as fresh made deli sandwiches, southern food and heaps of catering. The lineup often went right back out the exit doors.

The level of arrogance and the way the average customer treats service staff today is almost criminal. Maybe it was because I was working in a high end tourist town where arrogance is a badge of distinction along with the lack of ability to read a menu prior to getting to the service area. Team that with more than 70% of the customers wanting something not on the menu and in this high volume establishment wait times went through the roof. Before you ask, yes we did put into play many ways of expediting order taking including line order taking but when Mrs. Smyth from the country club insists she has fried aardvark tails on her burger and won’t move until she gets them…. Well you get the idea.

What I did love was the people that put up with this day and day out, with hardly a complaint and a smile on their faces. These are the people who make the food business worth it, the people that work 12 to 14 hour days, 7 days a week through the season only to have the tax man take just about everything extra they have earned that week and just shrug and get on with it.

These are the people who can handle six months of damn hard work and still have a smile while handling Mrs. Smyth and her fried aardvark tails, sending her off happily without them and knowing she will be back tomorrow looking for sautéed shrimp testicles on her pizza.

QSR Customer Service Index 2011

The American Customer Service Index for this year has just been released and a few surprises jump out at me.

For many years Starbucks has been in the decline in store numbers both here in the US and in many other countries around the world with local opposition beating them in both service, price and coffee quality. Some would say that is not a hard thing to do but it seems their customers are happy with their offering, with a 2.6% increase in customer satisfaction over last year. That’s two years in a row of happy customers.

I am also happy to see Pizza Hut finally doing something right and again it is two years of increased customer satisfaction with this year being a whopping 3.8% over last year.

In fact the majority of fast food did quite well in the rankings with McDonalds beating the rest at 7.5% over last year.

The concepts that did not do as well are the ones that you would expect and I am a little sad to see KFC flat this year. They seem to have lost there way a bit recently. I certainly have noticed a downturn in product quality, service and cleanliness recently.

If you are interested in seeing the full list by industry here is how you get there.




QSR, Family and Casual Customer Satisfaction – 2010 Survey Results

Customer satisfaction is one of those areas of your business that is hard to quantify but is probably one of the most important factors in the long term health of your business. JD Power and Associates (scroll down to Restaurants) have just released their customer satisfaction rating for ten US cities for the Casual, Family and QSR segments. It makes an interesting read and if you are in any of these cities have a look and see if you can learn something. If you do, let us know. Restaurant Chains Best Customer Satisfaction The results may surprise you!