I’ve been all over the place recently. Literally. I’ve experienced service in all shapes and sizes, from the bus driver who drives the bus, the hotel people who run the hotel to Air Steward and Stewardesses who help make the flights to and from Saudi Arabia bearable. Having experienced what I’d say were differing levels of service provision by all these various folks, I was left wondering –what is good service, and is it SO hard to give or accomplish?
Not one of the times where I’ve been serviced (so to speak) has left me completely devoid of that which I sought. Sometimes what I received was sub-standard, or below my expectations – like the hotel for a wedding recently which clearly thought itself an expensive place (£140 a night says it was), but who lacked thought and care in service. A surly receptionist and a seeming inability to be flexible meant my expectation of receiving something a bit extraordinary didn’t materialise. Perhaps only a fault of their prices. Talking of hotels, I also stay in a Saudi Arabia hotel which shall remain nameless (Intercontinental Riyadh, oops I said it), which tries hard, and the staff are always polite and always seek to accomplish what I ask. The problem is, for some unknown reason (I reckon shoddy processes) they often get it wrong: I order one thing, get another, I book a car for day x arrives on day Y. That kind of thing. Not nasty, just not great.
So, thus far I’m thinking good service has something to do with the expectations you’ve got (however you get them) and a base level need to actually get stuff right. Good service and wrong just won’t cut it.
I’ve concluded that the last pillar of good service (at least where I am concerned) is to be INTERESTED. Being interested implies politeness of course, but it also means understanding why a person might ask a certain question, and also means taking care of the person as an individual, not just as a bank-card or worse in some cases, a nuisance who spoils your serenity. That’s why, I’d say you often get good service in little local shops – they can easily exceed your expectations by having better than average local produce (for example), they get it right – by transacting with you quickly and efficiently, and they’re interested at least in a passing way, in ensuring your day goes well, and answering questions, responding to pleasantries. They’re just one example of good service, but here’s you to, random shop worker or owner in a local Surrey village this weekend. You should write a book on good service!