2017-07-20 / Outdoors

Customer service is not an option

In nature, there are creatures that take care of others’ needs. There are small fish and shrimp that swim into the mouths of predators to clean bits of old food — without worrying about becoming its next meal.

What about us humans? Let’s face it: When it comes to serving others, there are some people just not cut out for dealing with folks in person. I have been to businesses where just trying to find someone to help me is impossible. Some of today’s entry-level employees would rather keep their head down looking at their phone and texting or playing whatever game is the current rage. I’m sure you have been to a restaurant and have had to wait for your server to just bring menus. Listen, if you’re waiting 10-15 minutes for someone to wait on you, it’s time to think about leaving that establishment.

We have been to places like that where staff — including someone who was supposedly a manager or a shift leader — did not even look our way. They walked right on by. (I know some folks who waited so long to be greeted by a server, they called the restaurant from their table to get their attention.) In other places we have been, our server got our drinks then brought our food — then we didn’t see him or her again. In the meantime, we had to get our own silverware or napkins, or find another wait staff to ask for A-1 Sauce or cocktail sauce for our shrimp. These were not low-end restaurants, either. Do these staff members really expect a decent tip? (I’m sure they do — regardless of the quality of the service.)

Every business depends on its customers; therefore, every business needs to think about its customer service. Customers have options of places to patronize. Your business is likely competing with dozens of others to capture customers. What makes some businesses successful and some struggle or fail? Service, service, service! If you get good to great service consistently, then you will likely be a good, loyal customer. We all want to save money on our vehicle or when we go out to eat, but how we get treated at that establishment is often more important. Staff members are important to any business. You could be the greatest mechanic in the world, but if your staff doesn’t treat customers well, then you are in a tight spot.

Restaurants have it tough, as it is sometimes considered a lowly job to be waiting tables. It is tough if you don’t learn to leave your problems at home — you’re having an argument with your ex, your feet hurt, your car is on the fritz, your dog ran away or any other of a number of negatives issues. When you come in to work — it doesn’t matter where — have a good attitude. The more you learn about your job and business, the more you will be at ease when dealing with customers. Being part of the wait staff is a demanding job. A lot of doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals could not last doing what you do. You will find that, as you learn more, your confidence increases and you can kid around with customers and have a little fun. Most of them love personal interaction. Your attentiveness will reflect in your income, too. Studies show when customers know your name and you give good to great service (read: attention), your tips go up exponentially. There are health benefits, too, of feeling good about yourself.

In nature, there is not much recognition for doing the work. You do your work, you eat, you live. There is more to life than that for you and I. We can also adjust our attitude and benefit greatly as we interact with a smile and a goal to get ahead. Enjoy your work, and you will enjoy life even more.

Fair winds; calm seas. ¦

— Capt. Dennis Kirk has been traveling the Peace River since 1979. His life adventures are written from various chapters in his three decades of experience in Southwest Florida. He is part owner of the Nav-A-Gator, a riverfront restaurant and marina in Lake Suzy, just off Kings Highway. For more information, call 627- 3474.

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