Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Customer service in the U.S.

Customer Service as a marketing tool for better sales was started in the U.S. In many places in Europe the notion of customer service is still unexistant and sometimes you feel bad for “bothering” the poor salesperson with your presence.

In the U.S. the “customer is always right” notion is prevalent in almost every restaurant and mall in the country, with the exception of small family owned businesses. Chain restaurants have a set of rules which employees have to follow. In many ways it is satisfying to have the cold food sent back without a battle, geting some free desert or having the  bad item taken off the bill when the food is not satisfactory. 

However, it has been taken too far. The “how are you doing today” and “have a nice day” are as fake as they can be. The niceties are insincere and unnecessary.

Do you really care how my day was?  

The fake smiles, the excessive selling of menu items at the table and the constant interruptions to ask “Is everything ok?” has made dining out on chain restaurants sometimes a torture. I don’t want to have dinner with the waitress/waiter!! I want my food ordered, brought 0ver and the bill presented discreetly at the end.  I don’t want to be in the middle of an interesting conversation with my fellow diners and have someone come every 10 minutes to ask me how the food is! I don’t want to be in the middle of a romantic conversation with my date to have some kid interrupt, break the mood to ask me if everything’s all right! If it is not ok I will let you know! Simple as that. Leave me alone!

Learn with the French: after you arrive at the restaurant, sometimes you are allowed to choose the table you want to sit (in Brazil you seat yourself, which is very good), then you order your food. The waiter does not spend 10 minutes going over the “specials”, unless you ask. Your food is brought discreetly. The waiter does not constantly ask you if you want another glass of wine or beer when yours is still half full. No need to even ask “do you want anything else”?  The waiter/waitress watches your table from a distance. They observe their customers and if it seems you have finished and are looking for them. When you make a sign, they come over and present the desert menu.  If no desert is ordered, they bring the check. Few words, just polite small talk.  That is the norm in most classy restaurants throughout the world (here in the US as well).

Americans eat out a lot. I eat out a lot. But often enough I feel harrassed by the servers. No, I don’t want to be your buddy, I want to eat and have peace. If you want to flirt with the waitress, go to redneck joints like Hooters. I especially do not want to be interrupted to be asked if anything is ok. If something is not ok, you will be the first to know!!

Finally, what is it with the constant snatching of glasses and bottles and plates from our tables while we eat? Can’t we be left alone?  Is the dishwasher going to run away if you don’t fill it up right now? What if my martini glass still has a drop of liquid, do you realize it is worth about 1 dollar because it is an absurdly overpriced drink? That little bit of beer left in the bottle, who said I don’t want it? So can you please clean up at the end after I leave? I did not come to the restaurant to have a meal with the serving staff! Here’s my suggestion: let’s get eletronic. Each table will have a few buttons to push. When you need the server, you press the button, which will show on the server’s pager. One button should be for “check please”, another for “another drink please”, etc. Easy and uncomplicated.

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November 19, 2007 - Posted by | Difference between cultures

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