How do you define good customer service? Apparently, it depends on where you’re from. I read this article the other day and it made me think. The author is British and almost cringes at the in-your-face customer service she encounters in America, that she says would be deemed rude in Europe. She says she’s trying to have a relaxing vacation, a quiet meal, some alone time at the pool and it’s virtually impossible when she travels to the states. She said America’s idea of customer service is to almost hover.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate good customer service – it’s just that America and I have very different ideas of what that constitutes. In the swankiest London hotels, the staff are nigh-on invisible, waiting at the sidelines until needed.
That’s the kind of customer service she’d like: employees there to help when needed, but not pushing themselves on you in an effort to up their tip amount. I understand where she’s coming from. That almost badgering-like customer service is one of the reasons I don’t like eating out. They ask if you want more water. You say no. They refill it anyway. And then you blink and they’re refilling it again. Sometimes every 5 minutes they’ll show up to refill my water when it’s only gone down an inch since they last topped off the glass. And then it’s almost like they have a required set of 10 questions they have at ask everyone… and YES, it does feel forced.
I also think they are always trying to rush people out the door, which leads me to my mother’s biggest pet peeve: trying to clear your plate before you’re even done eating. Again, it touches on the underlying customer service attitude: they are kind to you and unnecessarily eager to serve for the tips only. The faster they can get you in and out, the faster the next tipper can be served.
Here’s the thing, I can’t decide whether I’d be more annoyed at a lack of customer service or an overly-friendly, overly-attentive, overly-fake waitstaff. I guess it’s better to have too good of service than horrible service, right? But does too much of a good thing actually make it a bad thing?
We always have a choice in these situations. If the too-chipper, hover-y service makes you crazy, you can choose not to go out to eat, which is what I pretty much do. But I really enjoy trying a new restaurant in new city sometimes when I travel.
Have you noticed this extreme customer service behavior here, too? Do you mind it? Have you noticed a difference if you’ve traveled to other countries? What are your thoughts on this? Weigh in below.