Friday, June 28, 2013

The Surly Sandwhich

I’ve reduced the number of cafĂ©’s to choose from my list.  With an abundance of food and coffee outlets on almost every corner my list of cafes I have walked out of because of bad service continues to grow.  Call it food snobbery, picky, choosy, or just plain stubborn that I won’t give my money to people who are bad at service or just plain rude to me.  You see that’s the deal when you sign up for hospitality.  You give good service as part of providing an enjoyable experience for your customers.  You know, the one’s in between the money and the coffee?

Having recently been fronted with a coffee shop manager who was more interested in his till takings than his customers only to be given a no eye contact “yeah, wait a minute” opener, I turned and walked.  No, that’s not service.  Neither is a coffee shop with a door marked open but instead of good morning I get an “I’m not ready, can you maybe come back later?” If you are not open, don’t have a door open that says ‘Open’.  

Now no one denies the long hours, small margins and physically demanding effort it takes to run a food establishment.  But giving friendly service is as important as serving fresh food which is another reason why one less food store will be visited by me after being sold a ham and cheese roll on stale bread.  I returned to the shop with the offending item (yes, seriously) to give them the opportunity to rectify what I assumed was a mistake only to be argued with by the manager who insisted I should have toasted it and that I have high standards.  Is expecting to buy fresh food now a high standard? Starting an argument with your soon to be ex-customers is never a great look regardless of whether you think you are justified or not.  

I’m beginning to wonder if expecting good service is a symptom of the aging.  I know I’m on the wrong side of awesome but can’t help noticing that some much younger than me aren’t bothered by the go away I’m busy standard of hospitality now served in many cool cafes.  Having been told to go and sit down by someone half my age because they were too busy to take my money makes me feel like a naughty school child constantly wanting attention, except that I’m offering cash for it.  Should we fight back and demand that our money is worth more than a pay up and shut up offer, even if it is only $3.50?  If we don’t speak up do we end up with a culture of surly cafe keepers whose idea of service is to wrap your sandwich in a paper bag and hurl it through your car window?  

There is no shortage of places to buy a coffee in Melbourne and those who provide both a good product and a friendly disposition should be rewarded with great success.  For the rest, time to lose the last night I partied too hard look and start serving customers like they meant something to your business.  The high energy, polite professionals win hands down.  Your customers want you to succeed.  They like you, just pretend to like them back.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When a stranger calls

When a stranger knocks on the door several things go through your mind like, but not limited to, they are going to try and sell me something I don't need and/or they are looking to rob my house. 

Without having installed a moat it's hard to prevent cold callers from knocking.  Having a barking dog by your side helps to reduce the length of the sales pitch and provides legitimate reason to close the door before the end of the much rehearsed spiel.

Traveling salesman selling vacuum cleaner attachments have been hoovered into history and cosmetic home sales people are generally invited first. No great deal on offer, must have contract or one off promotion will ever get me to open the door any wider and there is no electricity or phone company that will ever sell me or have me sign up for anything on my front door. 

It may appear to be impolite to close a door on a legitimate clipboard clutching field operator but companies need to take note.  Asking your customers to try to determine whether your sales people are clever fraudsters or just doing their job is too hard and generally not worth the effort.  Given the success of the No Junk Mail sticker on unsolicited advertising material, it won't be long before the front door displays a similar request.  No cold callers or hot deals, no gadgets needed, no life saving devices, no must have anythings and definitely no can I use your toilet.  Or just pull up the draw bridge.  No thank you and goodbye.  Now, back to my cup of tea.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Older workers on display

Walking through second hand furniture shops is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend. You find yourself stopped in your tracks with an 'I remember these...' smile on your face launching you back to the world back then. Unfortunately it makes us feel old even when we don't feel old. What makes us feel older is when we become what's called the invisible generation. 

At an age when modern technology can leave us behind and poor customer service leaves us standing at the counter it seems we've come from a time (not planet) when service was genuine and face to face but now appears to virtually have disappeared.  Now we must adjust to a world that requires us to remember our 6 digit passwords when remembering our own birthday is hard enough.

The prospect of retiring rich for us is most unlikely as the small nest egg we had set aside is eroded by the fees and taxes that seem to apply to every stage of living.  We consider staying on at work as long as we can but the youth culture begins to erode our possibilities.  Companies are reluctant to provide training for new careers and whilst the employment opportunity might have been equal, when you start work don't expect anyone to show you how to use the telephone - now a menu driven computer based system requiring yet another password.

Being an older worker amongst a workforce of two generations ago can make you feel like a relic even with the most basic of tasks.  Operating the coffee machine assumes a completed short course that requires at least a pass in both single origin blends and swirly art motif on top.  The photocopier being the only piece of technology that isn't getting smaller and could easily take up a car space has enough functionality to proof read your documents and post them on the internet.  Today's workplace can be intimidating with its assumed technological know how that leaves you staring at a blank screen. 

Having been an expert typist and wizzbang word processor back in my day, technology has put my expertise in the glass display cabinet in the antique skills bazaar so those in the future can pause and reflect on, 'ah I remember spelling'.

Time for a cup of tea.