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Pub customer service drops during December and festive period

By Lesley Foottit , 06-Dec-2012

Whitbread: happy diners

Whitbread: happy diners

Customer service is at its lowest in December, according to research commissioned by customer insight agency SMG.

Around 60% of diners wait longer in December for a meal than in any other month. Of the 2,000 people surveyed 33% would have ordered more during meals in December but didn’t get the opportunity through inattentive staff, 40% of respondents reported having had their food orders completely forgotten by staff and 55% are going into the festive period anticipating poor service.

The research also found that forgotten orders are most common in the south-east and south-west with nearly 21% of Londoners and 23% of customers from the West midlands having experienced rude staff. Restaurant walk-out rates are highest in Scotland and the West Midlands with 25% of respondents reporting feeling so frustrated with the service they received that they left without paying.

Half of those surveyed were not looking forward to this year’s Christmas parties due to a previous experience of poor customer service and 34% would refuse to return to a venue where they had been disappointed before.

SMG suggests operators should provide incentives to staff to keep them working to the best of their ability and treat customers well and keep them well informed of the situation at all times.

Jeremy Michael, SMG managing director said: "We have been experiencing Christmas for over 2,000 years so this busy time of year should not come as a surprise to restaurants. Customers should not have a reduced customer experience because the industry is not prepared. Restaurants need to ensure that they have hired sufficient staff and provide training for staff to better deal with customer queries.

"Restaurants should be taking advantage of this opportunity by focusing efforts on providing first class customer service and nurturing customer relationships. By doing this, restaurants are turning those customers into ones that not only return, but recommend."

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