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?