The cost of poor restaurant service       

Sadly I heard the following real story: a Christmas lunch reservation was made for 14 persons at a hotel restaurant; the cover price for the lovely sounding menu was £50 per person. The reservation on Christmas-day was set for 2pm.

When the party arrived, the table was not ready and was then quickly arranged. The table setting suffered because of the rush. After the party had taken their seats, the drinks order was taken 20 minutes later, the pre-ordered starters arrived 40 minutes later.

When the manageress was questioned regarding the delay and poor service, the reply was “Two staff didn’t show up today…”. The manageress was not directly involved in the service.

The main-course was extremely poor and resembled nothing compared to the advertised and promised menu. One client described her plate as: “1.5 slices of cold turkey and 4 half-pieces of sprouts – no gravy, no potatoes, no trimmings…” The promised mince-pies never arrived…

As a good will gesture, the party was offered a set of free drinks at the end of the meal. Iit was recognised by the hotel that “service had some lapses”. The total bill was over £700.00. “Lunch” ended at 5pm.

A complaint was sent the following day and a rebate of £150.00 was offered 3 days later. This offer was not accepted and a counter demand of £350.00 was made which was quickly paid by the hotel.

I wonder how many other discounts, 50% or higher were made that day as a result of poor service.

Needless to say these customers vowed never to be back. The word of this “dreadful experience” was spread amongst friends and the hotel might find a few remarks on customer comment platforms. What a start to a new year…

My question is: what should the hotel do to recover from such a poor performance.

I can help. My first suggestion would comprise of reviewing their event procedures – what planning and preparation was done for such an occasion. This would also include the hotel’s staffing, training and management arrangements, and of course their customer care concept – not least their sequence of service provisions – and that is just the start.

Hospitality Advice provides support and assistance to hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions. My ambition is to enhance the customer service performance and increase profitability for operators. Contact Hospitality Advice for more information.