Simmers Restaurant Service Experience

Service Encounter Diary

My Service Encounter at Simmers Restaurant

Naturally, I am not a fan of leisure travel. However, being a middle-level sales manager in a local bank requires me to travel a lot and widely as my job entails going out there and seeking customers. But when my cousin who lives in Kenya invited my sister and me for a lion-sighting safari in Kenya’s world-renowned Maasai Mara National park, my vast travel experiences seemed inadequate to prepare me for the coming journey into the wilderness. I was literally beside myself with excitement. Since my childhood, I have always wanted to see the world-famous spectacle that the seasonal wildebeest migration between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya is. So we arranged to travel to Kenya during the Schools holiday when my sister would be free to travel, which interestingly coincided with my leave.

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My cousin was generous enough to meet half of the cost of our air tickets. I met the other half.

Immediately we landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport –Kenya’s premier International airport- at around midday, an air of a strange land hit me. Most noticeable was the brightness and intensity of the sun. Within just about ten minutes of landing at the airport, my cousin together with two of his friends picked my cousin and me and took us to a restaurant within the airport. This is where I would experience the most memorable customer service so far in my life.

The restaurant was modestly decorated one with faintly discernible paintings of what I later came to learn were “Morans”, a word for warrior amongst Maasai tribesmen.

A waitress with a broad smile arrives at our table even before we could settle down. She politely handed us the menus, then with what seemed to me as a commanding even rude tone, she said “Jambo”. Not having the slightest idea of whatever that word meant, my sister and I stared at each other blankly with sheepish smiles for about five seconds. As if they were reading from a written and previously well-rehearsed script, my cousin and his friends bust out loudly with such reverberating laughter that the rest of the patrons were now staring our way.

“Jambo Sana!” my cousin and his friends responded animatedly, which immediately broke the uneasiness in me and, from the look of her face, slight embarrassment in the waitress. My cousin went ahead to explain to us the meaning of the word (it is Swahili’s equivalent of English’s “hello/ hi”)

We scanned the menu amidst a hearty catch-up conversation. Barely after scanning a couple of items down the menu, I told myself “Wow! These prices are outrageous!” Fearing another reverberating laughter, I kept this observation to myself. Only later did I realize that the prices were quoted in the local currency whose value is about ten times lower than my home country’s currency. That is when the fact that I was in a foreign country hit me squarely.

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Hidden somewhere in-between a seemingly endless list of items with foreign-sounding, hard-to-pronounce names, I spot an item along the lines of “hamburger, fries”, and I decided this is was what I was going to have despite my biting hunger as well as reservations about the price of the hamburger.

The waitress, who had left to attend to other customers while we were deciding which meals to order, came back and went around the table hearing from everybody and lastly gets to me. Lo and behold! Upon hearing order the hamburger and fries she did a double-take. Then, in a significantly heavy and what seemed to me like a very commanding accent, she said “What?”

“Well, can I have the hamburger and fries please?” I repeated submissively, pointing to it on the menu.

She then took the menu from my hands and, as if I had brought the menu with me, “Huh,” she said, “I haven’t the slightest idea we make those,” throwing everybody else on the table but me into bouts of laughter. She then pauses for a moment, smiles at me as if bemused. “Sir,” she asks, “Where are you from?”

My discomfort with this waitress was now slowly turning into irritation. But, after a slight hesitation, I replied “Australia.”

“Australia? I thought you are from England! Is this your first time visiting our country? ”

“Um, correct.”

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“Sir, the first time in Kenya and you want to have a hamburger for lunch?”

“I don’t think so,” she says with finality. “You are going to have ugali buzz.”

“Um…”

“You will love it. Just wait and see!”

“Well…”

She then quickly cut me off and hurriedly left to fetch my ugali mbuzi together with everybody else’s order.

The meal turned out to be fried mutton together with what I later learned was a hardened meal made from maize flour. It was very sumptuous and I greatly enjoyed it to the last bit.

In summary, my expectations as a customer were that both the food served and table service provided would be of average quality. After sampling the meals and evaluating the service, however, the quality of table service by far exceeded my expectations. Moreover, although it was my first time eating ugali mbuzi, I thoroughly enjoyed the sumptuous meal and I am looking forward to another meal. The quality of food also exceeded my expectations.

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Regarding customer satisfaction, my initial encounter with the waitress made me think of her as impolite, but continued engagement with her revealed her as friendly, warm-hearted, and that she has a somewhat twisted sense of humor. She managed in, a peculiar way, to get rid of the anxiety of being in a foreign land that had considerably built up inside me and made me feel completely at ease. In the end, I was very pleased with the quality of service offered by the restaurant, particularly the table service provided by the waiters.

All in all, the restaurant provides high-quality service to its customer. The quality of food is above average, but the menu needs to be expanded to accommodate a more diverse range of customer tastes.

On a scale of 0-5 (where zero represents poor table service and horrible food and 5.0 represents the satisfying quality of table service together with excellent meals), the restaurant would score 4.6 for me; the quality of table service was nothing but fantastic. However, the restaurant can do more to improve the quality of food on offer to customers.

I would recommend Simmers restaurant to my relatives and close friends who may get to travel to Kenya.

Our safari went ahead largely as planned and, even though I was disappointed for not witnessed the wildebeest migration, all the other wild animals we saw in the park were as equally stunning as the wildebeests.

Service Encounter Report

Introduction

Among the most critical elements of the marketing mix for both services and products is customer service. High-quality customer service not only creates customer loyalty but also helps add value to the company. This so happens because, in the modern world, customers extend their interest bond the products offered by businesses to other additional aspects regarding how the products or services are offered. As such, only a few people would want to transact business with firms that are insensitive to their customers concerning their needs as well as concerns (The Times 100 n.d).

From a generalized perspective, customer service and satisfaction theory are all about customer retention. Also, improvements in customer service do not necessarily have to be complicated or expensive. For example, at a restaurant, a simple act like the dining manager frequently looping through the dining room to thanks to the customers for stopping by is enough to improve customer service (Myers 2010:1)

Therefore, to survive stiff competition from business rivals, enterprises must firmly grasp the tenets of customer service (Zemke & Woods 1999).

Analysis of my Customer Experience at Simmers Restaurant regarding Customer Expectation, Customer satisfaction, and Service quality

According to Kamin (2002: 11), quality customer service breeds customer loyalty. He goes on to argue that this is achieved through what he refers to as the “equation of fantastic service.” To achieve high customer satisfaction, a firm must develop in its employees a culture of greeting the customer before doing any other business with them. Simmers restaurant excels in this as customers are greeted and welcomed into the restaurant by waiters with warm and friendly smiles. This serves to create personal as well as a friendly relationship with customers.

The management of the restaurant appears to have high-quality customer service at the core of their business strategy. In this regard, the management of the restaurant seems to be aware of the customer service principle that service quality can not surpass the quality f the provider. As such, the workers appear to have been trained to provide high-quality customer service through, above all, personalizing the services to each customer (Rice, Austin & Gravina 2009). A waiter takes time to engage those customers showing signs of needing assistance with the selection of items from the list in the menu. In so doing, the waiter takes great care not to upset the client. They seek to assist a client to select their meals in a polite and friendly way. Thus, the customer comes before both the product and the services offered by the restaurant.

Polite Treatment of Employees

The management of the restaurant also appears to be very aware of the customer service principle which states that employees treat customers in much the same way they are treated by their employer or their managers (Leadership-Tools.com n.d). The waiters seemed a happy lot because they were could easily and readily engage customers in light conversations whenever a customer would require their attention, besides putting on genuine smiles all the time. This is a good indication of the fact that the management of the restaurant cares about their workers and most probably than not treated them politely.

Recognition of Customers

Another highly critical of element s that helps offer customers superior quality service is remembering their names (Keaveney 1995: 79). In this respect, the waiters could recognize several customers by name. This was intriguing because the restaurant is located at an airport and it is well within logic to imagine that the restaurant received mostly one-way travelers.

Recognizing customers, particularly by their names, is essential for improving service level in that it makes the customers feel valued by firms they buy from (Hayes & Dredge 1998: 114). Knowing customers personally also plays a significantly huge role in the customer feedback mechanism since it is hard for a regular customer to fail to respond to prompts asking for their opinion. Moreover, through customer recognition, a firm may be in a good position to keep track of its critical customers and show concern for them by contacting them when they to have pay irregular visits to their premises (Lake, Hickey & Institute of Directors 2002: 77).

Giving Customers Benefit of Doubt

Both sellers of products and providers of services should always give their customers the benefit of doubt (Walker 2009: 2). In respect of this, the Simmers restaurant appears to follow a considerably divergent principle in that, the waiters seem to have the habit of imposing their tastes on customers who seem appear lost or indecisive about which meal to take. Normally, a seller should not enter an argument with their customer; the customer is always the king (Ukens 2007: 124).

Providing Special Requests

Instead of arguing with the customer, sellers are supposed to do everything in their power to see to it that special requests are made available to customers however abstract they may be (Miller n.d: 1; MacNeill 1993: 31). This not only makes the customer feel highly valued, but it also creates more value for that particular product or service, which in turn allows the seller to sell the product or service at a higher margin (Cronin, Brady, & Hult 2000: 196). In the case of Simmers Restaurant, diversification of products is not given the priority it deserves. Only local dishes are given enough attention, and customers from across the world have to narrow their choice of dishes to a menu of local foods. The exception to giving the customer what they want is, of course, illegal products and services.

Kamin (2002: 11) theorizes that the environment of service provision, as well as the willingness of the service provider to offer help to the customer, are what constitute the two most important elements for achieving high-quality customer service. He argues that it is from these two variables that the customer creates the first impressions of the firm they are transacting business with and, also, provides a background on which the remainder of encounters are judged by the customer. Regarding this theory, Simmers restaurant shines as an example of a good service provider since the restaurant ambiance is highly welcoming besides being equally relaxing.

Thanking the customer

The final element in the process of seeking to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction and thus winning customer loyalty is genuinely expressing gratitude to the customer for choosing to offer the firm business (Buttle & Burton 2002: 219). Kamin’s “equation of fantastic service” theory requires a firm to “leave the door open” for when the transaction with the customer is complete, which gives the customer an incentive to return. Simmers restaurant excels in this. Customers are profoundly thanked upon paying their bills and are also welcomed to enjoy the food and services offered by the restaurant. This enhances the feeling of being valued by the customers and subsequently winning their loyalty.

Opportunities for and threats

The major opportunity available for simmers is the expansion of the customer base. The restaurant with the help of proper marketing can easily win more customers given the high quality of services it offers. Also, if the restaurant could expand the array of foods served, more and more customers, particularly international travelers would most probably troop to the restaurant as it offers superior services.

However, the restaurant faces stiff competition from other restaurants licensed to operate at the airport. Some sell meals at a considerably lower cost. This poses a huge threat to Simmers as it is likely to eat into its customer base.

Conclusion

Simmers Restaurant observes the principles of satisfactory customer service and therefore can win customer loyalty. The restaurant is not only significantly highly responsive to the diverse needs of its customers, it is also very reliable is in providing quality services. The firm is, additionally, consistent in providing customers with high-quality meals. Further, the restaurant’s employees engage customers warmly and with respect, hence making customers feel valued as well as enabling the restaurant to create long-term relations with them. Lastly, the ambiance of the restaurant is not only welcoming but relaxing, and the meals are meals served highly delicious. Together, all these aspects make the restaurant able to offer superior services to its customers, which leave them pleasantly memorable experiences.

References List

Buttle, F., and Burton, J. (2002) ‘Does service failure influence customer loyalty?’ Journal of Consumer Behaviour 1(3) 217–227.

Cronin, J.J., Brady, M.K., and Hult, G.T.M. (2000) ‘Assessing the effects of quality, value, and customer satisfaction on consumer behavioral intentions in service environments.’ Journal of Retailing, 76 (2) 193–218.

Hayes, J., and Dredge, F. (1998). Managing Customer Service. Aldershot, UK: Gower.

Kamin, M. (2002) Customer Service Training. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training & Development.

Keaveney, S.M. (1995) ‘Customer switching behavior in service industries: An exploratory study.’ Journal of Marketing, 59 (2) 71–82.

Lake, N., Hickey, K. Institute of Directors. (2002) The Customer Service Workbook. London, UK: Kogan Page.

Leadership-Tools.com (n.d) Customer Service Tools . Web.

MacNeill, D.J. (1993) Customer Service Excellence. New York, NY: American Media.

Miller, A. (n.d) Customer Service Tips and Techniques. Web.

Myers, R. (2010). “Customer Service: Lessons from the Fall”. Entrepreneur . Web.

Rice, A., Austin, J., and Gravina, N. (2009) ‘Increasing Customer Service Behaviors Using Manager-Delivered Task Clarification and Social Praise.’ Journal of applied behavior analysis, 42, 665-669.

The Times 100. (n.d). Customer service. Web.

Ukens, L.L. (2007) 101 Ways to Improve Customer Service: Training, Tools, Tips, and Techniques. New York, NY: John Willey & Sons.

Walker, B. (2009) “Customer Service Techniques”. Good Customer Service. Web.

Zemke, R. and Woods, J.A. (Eds.) (1999) Best practices in customer service. New York, NY: AMACOM 78.

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