Good Customers for Poor Service

The biggest news in Addis for April has been the opening of Pizza Hut in Addis…ok…maybe a qualifier is needed… the biggest news among foodies in Addis has been the opening of Pizza Hut in Addis.  There was hype on traditional media – press releases, ads, endorsements- and on digital media – telegram foodie channels were all the rage these days, right? I wonder how much advertising budget Pizza hut allocated for the launch.  It would also be interesting if – and how – the market would be affected   in terms of market share and revenues because Pizza hut is here?  What do local pizza joints plan to do to stay relevant now that they have a formidable competition in the form of an international franchise. 

I’ve come across a number of heated discussions about the motive for Pizza hut for entering the Ethiopian market and how unhealthy our eating habits have become. On the other hand , some argue that this is a wakeup call for local businesses to step up their game in terms of improving their customer service. For that, I will be immensely grateful. You see, I’m one of those people who find it very difficult to tolerate poor service. Unlike many people who put up with poor service by making excuses for the establishment and its staff, I do exactly what any bad customer would do.  Allow me to demonstrate …the example is for a restaurant but it is applicable to other settings as well. 

Good customers  complain to the wait staff if they are not happy with the food or service. Repeatedly. They give second, third and fourth chances. They make a scene and send the plate back multiple times!  God knows what happens to the replacement meal. If I’m dining with good customers, I wouldn’t touch the second plate.  I like the smug face customers make when they have another meal as a replacement, though. That is exactly what I advice against. You are giving thumbs up to poor service if you complain again and again. Service providers get away with a poor fix.  They, in all likelihood, have made amends to you so they have no motive to improve. You are so happy that they accommodated you that you probably have no alternative but to continue patronizing their service even though your blood boiled a few minutes ago. 

Here is the proper way to handle poor service.  I give feedback. So, my advice would be to calmly state why you are not happy about the service or the food or the bill. By all means make your point! Exactly one time.  A grand total of only once. Then, if this is repeated the next time you visit, Say NOTHING!  For me, as long as the food is clean and reasonably cooked, I will eat, pay and quietly leave. My revenge comes in the form of reviews – both online and word of mouth.  Why would I reward someone for poor service by giving them multiple chances to abuse my palate?  I’d just say” I don’t like that place”  the next time someone mentions the establishment and I say it so earnestly that everyone within earshot  immediately decides not to even recommend the place. I’m not invincible but it feels good when your opinion is respected. It helps that everyone in my circle knows I’m a huge foodie with a fair but high standard when it comes to service. On the other hand, if the service was good, I heap on the compliment. I will describe the food vividly; go as far as talking about ingredients, taste, portion, service, price, ambience…just like a professional rater.  Heck, I might even throw in the occasional “ It’s soooo finger lickin’ good,  breakfast/ lunch/dinner  is on me the next time we go there” …It’s time service providers learn that retaining a customer is far cheaper and easier than gaining a new one.  Maybe Pizza hut will be good for us after all…

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