Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Service? What Service?



 There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
 
Sam Walton



Readers of this blog will know that I think the pub industry needs to up its collective game in terms of how they treat their customers. Seems a lot of customers agree with me. Retail Eyes surveyed 6,523 consumers on which sector delivers the best customer service — just 6% said the pub and bar sector delivered good service.

Let's think about that for a moment. Six percent. It isn't good is it? The reasons given are so simple, obvious and easily corrected, it makes you annoyed just to think about it. Customers (oddly enough) disliked dirty and uncleared tables. They resented waiting too long at the bar and staff who were disinterested, or didn't engage with them. No less than 56% have walked out without buying anything because of this type of thing, losing pubs business immediately and no doubt for the long term.

One publican commenting (fairly alone among those who blamed lack of support from PubCos, low wages, better prospects elsewhere and the smoking ban!!)said, wisely I think, "It costs nothing to smile and be attentive. A good pub will have staff smiling, and importantly looking at the customers, registering they know who is next. I've been in the trade for forty years, and if there is one thing I still find irritating it's the lack of customer care, having said that, it comes from the top, no such thing as bad staff, it's bad managers. It hurts but the survey is very accurate."

Amazing when you think about it. It really isn't that difficult to train people in the basics and it isn't much more than the lack of these basics people are complaining about. Employing untrained, slapdash staff is just giving profits away and speeding up the rush to the supermarket.  Not correcting that is a suicide policy

Time for houses to be put in order I'd say.

27 comments:

Woolpack Dave said...

Well go on then, take on a pub and shows us all how it should be done.

It's not that easy at all, otherwise it would be done right more often.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Starting charging one pound fifty a pint for 6%+ abv. West Coast gems and watch the punters flock! That will solve your pub dilemma.

Tandleman said...

So you think 6% satisfaction is OK Dave?

It isn't just me you know. And it isn't MY responsibility to get right!

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Ok, I get it. You brew a 6% gem and you have to pay higher tax on it, thus charge the punter more. This system must be changed. Pay one flat fee and allow brewers to brew those 6%+ gems. I know for a fact that there's a huge markup on Proper Real Keg over here. Brewers are allowed to make a profit on the arts. You cats are all concerned with over indulgence, people pissing in the street, late night city center violence, chavs and CCTV. If I found it necessary, I could walk out my door now and walk to my local and blow my brains out on Hop Juice. Being that it's not that great of an idea, I will stay put in my residence. Bottom line, someone needs to take care(not a pun) of local business. Your brewing industry as a whole needs a makeover.

Paul Bailey said...

First day of our just completed South Downs walk, footsore and weary my travelling companion and I arrived at a village pub shortly before 6pm. Chap turns up in a car, may have been the landlord, or may have just been the barman. My friend enquires as to what time the pub opens, and is told "Six o'clock". Fine, we've only a few minutes to wait.

Pub doesn't open on time; said person can be seen inside and can clearly see us waiting patiently outside. Eventually he opens up, we enter, remove our rucksacks and approach the bar. "What can I get you?" enquires the stony-faced mine host. We order two pints of 6X, which it must be said was very good.

As soon as we've paid for our drinks, landlord/barman vanishes. At no time during the act of serving our drinks did he attempt to engage us in conversation, or enquire where we'd come from or how far we'd walked. Neither did he give us the opportunity to chat with him.

In short, whilst he did what he had to, that was it. There was no welcoming smile, just a cold indifference. Had things been different we would have stayed for another pint, but instead we drank up and moved on. Need I say more!

Woolpack Dave said...

I think I'll give up.

Remember Service with a smile?

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

What sort of watering holes did the Retail Eyes survey focus on? There's a lot of variation across the 'pub and bar sector'.

I can't say I've ever witnessed clean floors or wiped tables in a Yates' but in the country pubs of the Pennine Way I've seen every establishment making the utmost effort to engage with customers and ensure the experience was positive.

Reminds me of a pub back home in Oxfordshire where the landlord was a pretty old chap who brewed horrendous 'beer' out the back. He couldn't have been more grumpy if he tried, to the point of being a bit of a local legend.

He would no doubt have failed the customer service test but I don't think the locals would have changed him for the world!

Pretty sure he wasn't interested in upping his game either!

@woolpackdave Having worked in a pub before I went to uni I don't envy you at all. Keep up the good work (will try and get up and have a drink with you in the Lakes sometime soon!)

Curmudgeon said...

I am often amazed how many staff can mill about behind the bar doing trivial non-urgent tasks and not serving customers.

On the other hand, obsequious service out of a customer care manual also grates. "Will there be anything else, Sir?" "If I wanted anything else I'd have asked for it!"

Tandleman said...

Mark - they didn't survey individual pubs, they asked for impression and opinion. They asked a lot of people.

What exactly are you saying? That they all visited the wrong pubs perhaps?

Tandleman said...

"I think I'll give up.

Remember Service with a smile?"

I do Dave. You were more open minded and reflective then I think.

Tandleman said...

Whoops. That sounds worse than I meant. Perhaps I should have said you were less defensive then. Or something.

Cooking Lager said...

Oy, Tandy. It's my job to slag off crappy pubs. It's your job to defend them and say they are great and that it's worth £3 to wait for some surly bint to begrudgingly give you a pint. Rules is rules. Do you want me to review pints of cask bitter? I will you know, if you're not careful.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Cookie, start at reviewing John Smith's Magnet. Preferably after it's been on for a few days. Then, you'll understand the alluring qualities of Proper Real Keg.

RedNev said...

As a regular pub-goer, and not just to the same pub, I can’t believe the 6% figure is accurate. It simply doesn't relate to my overall experience; pubs tend to be much better than that. Yes, I can tell horror stories like anyone else, but these are in the minority; that's why they tend to stick in our minds, while examples of good practice we just take for granted and don't specifically remember.

Looking up Retail Eyes, I see they are a mystery snooper firm. In work, I found that mystery snoopers often marked things down for trivial or peripheral reasons while not seeing the positive points or the overall picture, because their prescribed questions didn't require them to. Mystery snoopers are not a good way of determining quality. Who tests their effectiveness? No one.

moleha4 said...

As with many surveys the way in which questions are phrased has an effect on the results. For example what % responded that pubs/bars give an above average or even satisfactory service ? I may spend 2-3 minutes waiting to be served in a busy pub, about 1 minute from start to completion of the transaction, and then up to 30 minutes (hopefully) enjoying my beer. The quality of the beer and congeniality of the environment are for me the factors which most determine which pubs I revisit most frequently

Tandleman said...

RedNev - while I have lots of empathy with your argument, there is a fatal flaw in it. Since this was a comparative survey, it matters not a jot that dodgy experiences count more than you say they should. The point is peeps have more dodgy experiences - or recollections of bad experiences of pubs than they have elsewhere, to the tune of 96%.

I'd say that if you are clearly wrong to say that what people consider to be bad about pubs isn't so. You are effectively saying that since you don't like the answer, the wrong question was asked.

Wishful thinking isn't helpful here,

RedNev said...

Sorry TM, but you have completely missed my point. I was saying that I consider the methodology of mystery snoopers to be untrustworthy. IF I'm right - and my opinion is based on personal experience of mystery snoopers - then the results will be dodgy too. That is simple logic. Nothing to do with liking or hating the answer ~ obviously that would be subjective.

To put it simply, I think the survey itself is likely to be flawed. Unless you have studied the methodology of this survey in detail, you are in no position to refute that. What I wrote had absolutely nothing to do with wishful thinking, and everything to do with personal experience. I enjoy more than 90% of my pub experience, not 6%.

Tandleman said...

It'd have to be 100% flawed to swing your way. I too find over 90% of my pub experiences good, but then I and you select our pubs carefully - usually! Others asked probably have more random therefore representative experoinces.

Anyway - the Pub Industry seems to think it needs to do better.

RedNev said...

No, I don't agree with the point about the 100% flaw - a single flaw in the methodolgy of a survey can affect the whole thing. I think you want this survey to be right as it reinforces what I see as your jaundiced view of pubs overall. It's a sort of negative wishful thinking on your part that this survey supports your assertions.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Both of you guys need to chill the hell out and converse about something interesting. The good ship beery lollipop is sinking, and neither of you are doing anything to keep it afloat. Take total blessed when you get a chance.

RedNev said...

Wurst ~ I think you're right!

Tandleman said...

He's right about chilling but nothing else. I have a "jaundiced view of pubs overall"? Really? You of all people ought to know better. Read my blog. Read what I say about pubs. I go to them all the time, which is why I want then to succeed, do better and attract others to do so. That these "other people" don't share my (our) enjoyment of pubs is a source of pain to me, but not as much as that frankly hurtful and incorrect remark of yours.

Your distrust of mystery shopping - and this wasn't - shouldn't cause you to lose sight of the fact that others don't see it that way. I only said that simple things could be easily improved. The trade accepts that by and large. Why don't you?

My comments were mild but even so, it seems you are punishing the messenger for the message.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Herr'man, are you really this big of a downer?? You come across as an uptight, humorless, authoritarian. Laugh a little for Christ sake! Life is too short to get wound up in all the shit. We all love pubs, drinking, etc. Go hug your lady friend and relax, everything is going to be ok.

Godspeed bro.

Tandleman said...

You are right. I need some proper real keg. There. I've said it. Send me some!
(-;

RedNev said...

TM: I have noticed that a lot of people tend to slag off what is supposed to be their main interest. Some football fans talk about their teams after matches as though they hate them. I’ve heard rock fans declare their favourite band is not as good as it used to be, but still go to see them. Soap fans ditto. I know you love beer & pubs, but was wondering whether you were perhaps slipping into a similar frame of mind.

No, I didn’t say there was no room for improvement; in fact I said, “I can tell horror stories like anyone else.” My main point was that I questioned the methodology behind the survey, especially as I have tried and failed to find on the internet any meaningful information, other than corporate propaganda, about Retail Eyes and their survey.

Tandleman said...

Last point. So what was their ulterior motive?

RedNev said...

There doesn't have to be one; they may simply be inadequate to the task. But this is going nowhere; let's just agree to disagree.