Empathica, a customer service management firm, surveyed 3,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers about the value of good service over the quality of food they are given at restaurants. Only one in five people valued good service over the quality of food. A 55% majority of Americans think restaurant service is getting worse, while 32% think service is improving. Another 25% would tell their friends and co-workers not to go to a particular restaurant if they received poor service.
Part of the value of a service particularly in a restaurant is the customer relation experience. Most of us go to a restaurant to relax, and we do expect value for our money. With that comes quality food and consistent service. Some established restaurants still ride on their reputations, but the economic boom of the 1990s is over, and almost every business has felt the uncomfortable drop in revenue. "It's not that we have less customers," states Dave Billingsby, manager of a local restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens, "they just spend less; an average of 7%. I think the economic downturn has caused us a 10% drop in our total revenue, because people just spend less."
The Empatica survey found that one in five women "never" eat at restaurants while one in ten men "never" eat at restaurants. Discount voucher offers made a big difference in people going to restaurants. Sales are traditionally slower during the week, so promotions and discounts drive more diners to restaurants regardless of the service. Billingsby agreed, and said there is a 50% increase in business on the weekends.
In an informal survey among my friends, and we do like to try different restaurants, the quality of food overwhelmingly outweighed the service quotient, although a particularly bad customer service experience, no matter how good the food, meant the eatery was crossed off the list for future consideration. "I go to relax, eat some good food, and have a good time," explained Lorri Kennedy, a local Palm Beach attorney. "I'm very fussy about what I eat, but I also expect good service. If I don't get the proper combination, I really don't feel any customer loyalty. It all figures into the equation, and customer service is right up there with quality."
People relate to affordable prices, cost efficiency, and good management. That's what keeps all of us coming back. The poll summed up the report by stating; "Be familiar and reliable. In a stressful time, consumers will spend discretionary money on experiences they know they will enjoy."