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Great service? Get real

Eurest | Great service |  21 March 2013

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HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THE VICTIM OF FAKE CUSTOMER SERVICE? YOU KNOW THE THING — WHEN YOU GO TO THE TRAIN STATION DURING PEAK TIMES OR TO A BUSY HIGH STREET STORE. THE STAFF ARE WORKING IN PRESSURED ENVIRONMENTS AND THERE AREN'T ENOUGH OF THEM TO PROVIDE A DECENT CUSTOMER-STAFF RATIO. THERE'S PROBABLY A QUEUE, AND EVERYONE'S FEELING A BIT RATTY.

Under those circumstances the employee may make a valiant effort and communicate that they are really doing their best — which will probably be appreciated. But what is really annoying is when they stick to their training rulebooks to the letter but put no genuine heart or soul into their effort.

“Thank-you-for-waiting-how-may-I-help?” they mutter tonelessly without a smile or any eye contact. I ask for a chicken sandwich. “Don’t do them,” he snaps. This is familiar and infuriating territory — embodied in ‘computer says no’ satire. If they haven’t got something, that’s not their fault, but the lack of a common courtesy apology will see an early descent of the red mist.

It’s a million miles away from the friendly, efficient service Americans are used to.

If you’ve ever been there you’ll know what I’m talking about. As a Brit, your first experience of American service can be so positive that you don’t know where to look. I went for a $1 cup of coffee in a Chicago diner once, and it nearly blew my mind.

The woman who served me couldn’t do enough for me. No she didn’t mind breaking a fifty; yes she would bring it over; did I want anything else with that? Some pie? A doughnut? The shirt off her back?

Being a little cynical, I assumed she was working the upsell. But, by the end of my first day in the US, it was clear that Americans working in the food industry are, for the most part, just incredibly genuine in wanting to give you the best service they can.

It’s refreshing. A smile there is a smile. A recommendation is heartfelt and worth taking. And small talk isn’t just something you do because you’ve not managed to avoid eye-contact. In the US service is more outgoing and proactive, and much more natural: which means customers are happier and encouraged to have generally higher expectations.

We sometimes poke fun at it, but we can learn a great deal from the US approach to service. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do at Eurest — working hard to deliver the kind of service that makes our customers smile, and raises their expectations. 

We’re in the business of nourishing people, which is a wholly good thing. So it’s only logical that the service that goes with that is wholly good too.

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