I always enjoyed dining out at Australia or Taiwan. The service staff at cafes and restaurants are genuinely proud of their trade. They are well-versed in their product knowledge, attentive to your every needs, make the effort to know and address you by your name and are never stingy with their smiles. Compared to that kind of standards, Singapore’s service quality has a lot to improve on. More often than not, our service staff are not well trained, inattentive and some of us have to even beg for a smile from them.
Why The Bad Service?
Bad service does not happen overnight, I personally feel that these are the three main factors that attributed to our nation’s poor service standards.
1. We Pay Peanuts.
The average wage of a waiter or waitress in Singapore is about $6 to $10 an hour. Depending on his or her experience, the average full-time take home pay is about $1,100, and if he’s been doing it for a long time, $2,000.
The service charges on the bill rarely goes to the service staff and not every F&B makes the effort to upgrade and retain skilled workers.
With such low wages and limited job progression opportunities, how can service staff in Singapore be helped to spruce up their act?
2. Never A Dream Job
Unlike Australia where service industry is regarded as a respectable career, Singapore’s service industry is often seen as a dumping ground for the lowly educated.
Feeling condemned to a fate of just repeating the same duties day-in-day-out with little personal pride in their trade, some service staff simply drag themselves through work daily just to eke out a living.
3. Not The Best Customers In The World
When I was waiting for my O’Level results, I had a short stint in the F&B industry. Although we do have polite and considerate Singaporeans, most of Singaporeans swear by ‘The Customer Is Always Right’. They complain, make a fuss and throw a tantrum when things do not go their way. Trust me some Singaporeans can get pretty nasty.
When service staff go out of the way for customers, they seldom receive appreciation for a good job done. But when things goes wrong, they get hell from the customers and their direct supervisors. This generally leads to a vicious downwards spiral where service staff decided to finish the job they are paid for, lie low and avoid the wrath of Singaporean customers.
It Is Time For A Mindset Change
Although Labour Day on 1st May has traditionally been used by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to give recognition to workers’ contributions to Singapore, the Labour Movement is also turning the spotlight onto customers to get them to show more appreciation to workers.
Labour Chief Lim Swee Say urges Singaporeans to change the flawed mentality that workers providing a service are servants of their customers. He shared that overly demanding customers would cause even more of a strain on the labour crunch, which is here to stay for years to come. He added that as Singapore strive to become a more advanced economy, we must also strive to be a nation of better customers and better people.
How Can We Be Better Customers?
Being a better customer does more than just bettering the lives of service staff in Singapore. You will be surprised how much more happier service staff can value-add your retail and dining experience. You can start becoming a better customer today by practising the following simple tips for your next dine out:
1. Be Polite & Appreciative
Before you start screaming at the waitress in the cafe, put yourself in her shoes. It may a bad day for her and she is unable to perform at her best or the cafe is really too shorthanded.
Take the initiative to approach her for your request and thank her earnestly with a smile and say “ Thank you for helping me. I really appreciate it.”.
You may be surprised how well your table will be serviced after that.
2. Get The Service Staff Name
This should not be used in negative manner where you use a name to threaten the poor staff to give you better service or else. Ask for their name when you are ordering your meal. Once they reply, introduce yourself with a smile to create a personal connection. Start addressing the service staff in their name when they serve your table. Friendlier service staff will more likely to lead to better service.
3. Be A ‘Fun’ Customer
Service staff face customer after customer … all day long. The routine can be quite a drag. If you appears with a genuine smile and positive energy to spare, you will stand out for special care and treatment. Be that special customer and let your enthusiasm be contagious.
4. Be Ready
You are probably not the only customer that a service staff is serving at any point in time. Be ready with your orders before calling the waiter or waitress over to your table. Helping service staff do their job faster will result in better service for yourself and other customers.
5. Show Real Appreciation
A warm “thank you” at the end of the meal is always appropriate. If your service staff deserves more, give more. A nicely written compliment to the organisation can make a huge difference for his or her day, or in their career.
Service is a two-way street. The traffic of goodwill flows equally between customers and service staff. If you want good things to come to you, start the ball rolling by extending goodwill to others. How you behave can impact customer service quality greatly. Good shoes for servers also help them get through the day easier.
Be the customer who shines with preparation and appreciation. The customer service quality you receive will be the reward you deserve!