Fist of Fury!

Just a few weeks back, I met a foreigner friend of mine, who was once here in Malaysia   more than a  decade ago, and was recently re-posted back to Malaysia.

He was quite amazed by the development that has taken place, despite the level of perceived corruption.

He also complained of 2 things. One is the signage used on highways. He said that  most times when he follows the signage, he would end up doing a big big round before reaching his destinations. So nowadays, he has learned the hard way; he is now using a GPS to guide him.

Another thing he complained about was that the service levels in restaurants, especially fast food ones, are now much worse than before.

I concurred with him and cited certain chains which invariably would make mistakes when taking orders of 4 persons or more, either in the maincourse (sometimes the hotness levels of the maincourse) or in drinks.

I told him that the attitude of people running the fast food chains is no longer ” customers first”. A job is just a job and nothing else. Not like before, workers treasure their jobs, and they treat a job as part of their own responsibility.

The recent case of a fast food chain worker hitting a grouchy customer is a good example of how even a  worker, supposedly well trained to a level compatible with the international image of that chain, lost his cool and started hitting a customer.  This is a behaviour that is very unbecoming of a staff providing service to people, in the hospitality sector.

I don’t know what actually transpired at that time. According to the customer who was assaulted, he was angry and shouted after waiting about an hour and then was told that chicken has sold out.  He also denied any racial slurs being uttered.

If that was the case, customers , who have bought  vouchers on line and who have to queue for an hour and then told that all the waiting time was in vain, have a right to be angry; but of course that does not mean that they can utter derogatory remarks . They should also have the right to complain, and the act of taking down names and requesting to speak to manager should be viewed in this context.

If that was the case, then hitting customers who have reasons to be angry is hardly the right attitude.

Some of the faults may be with the assaulting worker; but management of that company has to bear responsibility too. There should have been more training on how to react under pressure, how to be pleasant despite having to work under a ‘pressure cooker’ situation.

The store manager was at fault too. If chicken stock is low, but there are still a lot of customers, why can’t he phone other outlets and get some stocks from them?  Why can’t he be more proactive instead of being passive? If there is no such contingency plans, then the management should bear some of the blame, too.

If the stock of chicken is low and is not available elsewhere, and there are still lots of customers, then the store manager should have foreseen a ‘sell-out situation’ much earlier, and place a notice to inform the customers even before the chicken has run out.  Time is precious, to wait for an hour and then told that all the waiting is in vain is really a waste of precious time. It should have been more customers friendly and more proactive.

I was glad that the customer who was assaulted has stressed that the whole episode  should not be interpreted in a racial manner. There is noting racial about this, since he has said that no racial slurs were made.

I hope that this incident should bring attention to those running service outletsand other hospitality services,  and have their staff better trained to deal with pressure situation, courtesy and good manner.

Malaysian standards have gone down on almost all fronts. Excellence has given way to mediocrity. It is really sad that this mediocrity has now even affected our service industriy.

Perhaps it is time for policy makers to reflect; why is there mediocrity in every field? Why has our reputation for hospitality given way to such nonsense? Do they have some share of the blame too?


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. HuaYong
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 14:19:24

    I think the tough life and living standard cause many to become fury and frustrated, me included.


  2. klm
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 15:20:16

    Dr. Hsu . You asked why is there mediocrity in every field. Is tht not obvious? This govt think meritocracy is a sin. What do you expect?


  3. hanprem
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 17:23:04

    When one does not practise meritocracy, what one gets is incompetence from the top management down. You can have the best training manual in the world but when it is delivered by incompetent people, it is a waste of time and has no effect whatsoever on the work and service standards. It’s a matter of blind leading the blind.


  4. asiseesit
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 19:57:12

    it is simply no excuse other than bad education, training and overall management. faults lies at the top. and it goes all the way to the policy makers. many times a set of guidelines and regulations are implemented or even enforce without providing the abiding party the necessary tools to comply.

    scenario 1: poor service of waiters. why allowed them on the dining floors when they are not properly or fully trained? this goes back to management and it all boils down to poor planning. management cannot always say its the fault of the worker for not performing sufficiently when they are not provided the necessary training before they are put to work.

    scenario 2: ministry implements a policy for the general public (mykad, passports, traffic regulations, insurances, etc). the execution to implement is set a timeframe or grace period but the industry itself could not provide the necessary machinery or device to sustain the change. furthermore, the extend of implementation to other ministries department including government civil service is all depended on what is read in the newspaper but no real-time step by step schedule of the implementation. our ministers, sad to say, are never hands on to the last detail.

    scenario 3: proactivity is the key word. most times incidents such as these do not occure overnight. there isn’t a culture of excellent and such mentality have to be breed into the minds of every service industry employee including the management. to start with, even establishing a protocol to attend to complains is so grossly underestimated. a shopping complex security guard tells you to move your car away from the sidewalk because their big boss have complained. are they enforcing it because the big boss complained or because it is the rule?

    simply put, the service industry players did not forsee these issues because no long term planning and directions was ever put in place. most issues are resolve on the spur of the moment and killing off the symptoms.

    it will take a very long time for us to even bring ourselves back to a acceptable level of service. until the key industry orientate themselves on a proper re-education process before even begin to think about moving forward and improving.


  5. winston
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 21:00:52

    Doc, let me put one thing straight.
    Very, very straight.
    If you yourself are not very bright and you are running the country, would you want as many people as possible to be smart?
    No way, isn’t it?
    So, if you keep them at a level way below you, yourself, then you would be king.
    Wouldn’t you?
    That’s what’s going on in this country!
    Make the people as stupid and dependent as possible.
    Remember the saying that, “One eyed man is the king of no eye kingdom?”
    Sure you do!
    So, what are you still doing in Gerakan?


  6. Dr Hsu
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 21:15:46

    I have quit gerakan on 308 last year. it was in most of the papers and websites. You can even read my statement of quitting in this blog, just go back to march 8th 2011.


  7. Chabalang
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 22:32:31

    Dear Dr. Hsu,

    Let’s have a more balanced view. While it is wrong for anyone to resort to violence, the whole event was viewed on a 28-sec video clip – shows the violence inflicted on the victim but did not show what the victim had shouted or behaved prior to the “video event”. The situation then must have been quite chaotic with lots of people trying to redeem their “discount” vouchers. I read that the victim was trying to redeem four KFC vouchers of RM132 (that’s a lot of chicken) on the day before expiry date – I can empathise the stress of restaurant workers. Yes, the KFC workers should NOT resort to violence but some young people can get angry quite easily + it’s hot in the kitchen.

    Back to the poor service…it really boils to PAY (one can deny it but I do usually get good service in local fine-dining restaurants). With foreign workers depressing the low-skilled service sector (e.g. restaurants), workers in fast-food restaurants such KFC are earning around RM5/hour (my guess) – you can imagine what kind of workers you can get and what type of training + the high staff turnover. Even the “manager” earns RM2-3k, quite a pittance. However, McDonald’s and Starbucks staff are generally okay but still not as good as those in developed countries.

    To me, the whole incident is an event of “hot-headed” and emotional outburst by some teenagers. The sad part is that every event/incident involving two different races in Malaysia has some “racial” connotation or angle to it – probably due to the education system as well as the socio-political situation.


  8. AcHoo!
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 22:55:24

    The management of KFC have got a lot of soul searching to do. Obviously the people they hired were founding wanting. There is something wrong with the outlet manager for ignoring the depleting chicken stock. Or is it the company delivery team incapable of responding to that day emergency. Obviously the staff have not been trained enough to respond correctly to angry customers.

    Some people point out to the poor pay may have impact the staff quality and morale. In the above case there is no proof of anything racial but unfortunately some people tend to have coloured view of anything.

    There may be too many outlets already and KFC may not have the infrastructure for it. I suspect that there must have been previous occasions when food item ran out and customers were made to wait or leave. That day some were enduring the wait to redeem the vouchers which were about to expire, causing some to have harsh words for the staff and the unfortunate respond.


  9. Li Li Fa
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 10:17:16

    For any service system to work, there must be ample and efficient channels of communication among employers and employees. This involves vertical and horizontal communications where policies and procedures are clearly meted out and understood at all levels. Feedbacks and frank discussions on how to put the procedures to work are given top-down and down-up.

    Perhaps, somewhere along the line, the communications was disrupted, negated, refused, and blocked; resulting in unwanted incidences that could hapen in a fast food restaurant; an international one at that. I believed this type of big corporate player would have their customer relations policies spelt out, but whether
    they jive with the on-the-spot situations are another matter.

    Fingers can be pointed; but in the end they point back to the top. The customer and the paying ones at that, should be the first in a service industry. In all circumstances, front line staff should be trained to handle all types of customers at any given situations.

    But if top management is more of the chicken hearted (no pun intended) , then what can be expect of the downlines. Who is going to suffer because of slack in service, but the customers?

    That is why, at KFC, one witnessed a scene from KungFuChicken and there were a lot of angry birds.

    Maybe some feathers at the top management must be ruffled and plucked.


  10. Taikohtai
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 11:15:49

    I think the culprit will be headhunted soon to join PDRM! Then he will have a licence to beat and hit anyone who cross his or his handlers’ path. Today KFC, tomorrow PDRM Karate Kid!


  11. Dr Hsu
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 13:14:44

    This is the latest news on the incident ( an eye witness has come forward). I think the staff has 2 counts to apologise, hitting people and before that calling labelling others as pig. Very unbecoming of a staff in a international chain.

    “”The person behind the Youtube account Jess6366, who had uploaded two videos of iCity KFC workers allegedly assaulting a customer, today came forward to give her account of the incident.

    NONERequesting for anonymity and not be photographed, she said that she was initially in the same queue as the assault victim Danny Ng at the time of the said incident.

    “It was about 9.30pm; I saw another queue with less people, so I changed queue. Mine had about five people in front of me while his (Ng’s) had about 10 people.

    “When it reached my turn, it was already 10.45pm while Ng had another person in front of him. When it reached his turn, there was no more chicken because I was the last one to pack all the chicken,” she said at a press conference in Klang today.

    Ng, she said, angry that the manager had failed to inform customers that the chicken had run out, raised his voice at the staff.

    However, she said, aside from a staff member calling Ng a pig and asking that he make his own fried chicken, no other vulgarities or racial slurs were used by either side.””


  12. CYC
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 13:33:26

    The Kungfu chicken aside, why are we still adore KFC when it already being classified as junk food in US. In addition, the so called “chicken” were injected with steroid that will endanger your health. McD is another one admitted some ingredient served actually cancerous in nature. Asians are so addicted to these American junk food for the simple reason of being trendy.


  13. Chabalang
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 17:36:49

    Just rectify my earlier reply after reading what the comments from the video maker…

    KFC (M) has to take a large part of the blame. They should have anticipated that the voucher owners are likely to redeem their vouchers in the couple days prior to expiry -> running out of stock at 9.30 pm was not acceptable -> boils down to weak management (the store manager of the I-City branch was too laid back – just sat in the kitchen).


  14. Wave33
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 22:20:02

    Quote: “Ng, she said, angry that the manager had failed to inform customers that the chicken had run out, raised his voice at the staff.”

    Chicken running out is common and expected to happen with the kind of poor management from KFC Holdings Bhd.

    The first person that should be FIRED is the outlet manager. The manager failed his/her duty as a manager. The same about our PM whom failed to educate his DPM about 1Malaysia policy.

    The manager has failed on:
    1. Informing the customer on the long queue that the chicken is running low. Apparently, I think the manager does not know how to count.
    2. Did not present himself/herself in the front counter to apologies and control the situation. Manager should always be in the fore front on any confrontation.
    3. Controlling his/her staff on a crisis

    If the manager have done all these, the incident will not have happened.
    err… hmm… perhaps not with KFC Holdings Bhd running the show, it is perhaps an incident waiting to happen. With a “tidak apa” attitude of running the franchise business.


  15. Wave33
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 22:30:43

    Just to add on…

    If Ibrahim Ali manage to create havoc in our peaceful nation.

    It is because Ibrahim Ali was let loose from a leash. This three managers has failed on their duties; PM, Home Minister and IGP.

    Come to think of it, did these three “managers” did it on purpose so that Ibrahim Ali can maharajalela in Malaysia?

    Hmm.. could be the KFC outlet manager instructed the cook to wack the customer.
    Well, it still comes back to the manager concern, whatever way you put it.


  16. DG
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 19:55:14

    Dr Hsu, I foresaw it coming that our service industry was heading south…not south like Singapore though.
    I had several encounters of poor service from the banking industry, telecommunications, reputable retail outlets and shopping center.
    Service people that don’t smile, don’t bother to answer your question when asked and some even answer back their customers.
    I blame the organisations that hire and train these employees.
    If you come across a staff that is rude, rest assure you know what their direct reporting officer is like.

    I would like to add, I saw first hand how a supervisor train his staff in a KFC outlet. Very unproffesional and a poor example.
    A trainee staff actually gave me back wrong change (more) and I returned the extra money.
    The supervisor instead of thanking me and explaining to the staff where she went wrong, the supervisor scolded the trainee in front of me.
    The poor trainee was embarassed and didn’t even know where she went wrong
    I had to explain to her, she accidently punched the cashier twice .

    If you get supervisors with poor attitude and appaling manners, it would not only create a negative work enviroment, the staffs would also have appaling manners too.


  17. CYC
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 20:54:35

    Poor service is part and parcel of globalisation process. People talk through FB and human touch is totally lost. We are in a paradox of wanting everything automated yet we also want somebody to smile at us. How ? We want 1st grade teachers to teach our kids but yet discourage our kids to become teachers because the pay is deemed chicken feet. How?


  18. petestop
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 11:30:35

    CYC, it is not so much trendy nowadays.

    If you compared to “local” food, say Chinese economy rice, it is already more expensive than these fast food, no thanks to the Barang Naik govt.
    A basic plate of economy rice, two meat, one vege, easily cost RM8~9 here in Penang and you have not add the drinks, which cost another RM1.5~2. These are rather lousy food really, and the price already same as these mass produce fast food.

    If you want trendy, then it would be the up-market cafes that is mushrooming all over town, like Kopitan, Papa-Rich, Oldtown, etc, basically serving local food at a premium price.


  19. BeWildered
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 10:18:45

    Using physical violence against another person is a crime, so this case should be a police case. This is what always happen in the USA. But in Malaysia, it becomes a goreng goreng issue, and everyone wants to have something to say. No wonder Things in Malaysia are mostly inefficient other than collecting money, taking money.


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