A sad state of affairs
I had an unusual dining experience the other week: I went out for a meal in Dubai and received absolutely impeccable service.
I know what you’re thinking: when the editor of an F&B magazine comes to dinner, of course staff will be on their best behaviour.
But I want to emphasise that this was not a ‘work’ visit; it was not a restaurant I have been to before and I have never met any of the staff, which is why I think it is appropriate to name (and definitely not shame) the outlet.
It was Margaux, the recently-opened French restaurant in Souk Al Bahar — and my visiting sister selected it as our dinner venue, purely on the basis of its proximity to Dubai Fountain.
But during the course of the evening we had the pleasure of being served by staff who actually knew their stuff.
The waiter was attentive but not over-bearing, and impressively knowledgeable about the menu.
Food and drinks arrived promptly and appropriate ‘check-ups’ were made by staff during the course of the meal.
But what most impressed me was the up-selling.
Not only did I end up trying a totally different (and very delicious) main dish as a result of our server’s well-informed recommendations, but I also succumbed to ordering dessert and a speciality coffee — not something I would usually do.
So my congratulations to the staff and their management at Margaux: they deserve to do extremely well, if my single experience there is indicative of their general performance.
But discussing this impressive evening with a colleague got me thinking about the last time I had experienced really good service when dining out in this region.
And although I have, of course, had other good restaurant visits during my time here, I have to say it has been a while since I last experienced mishap-free service.
This is unfortunately because there are still too many outlets here where the customer service is seriously lacking.
I’m not just talking about fast food or casual dining options — the lack of awareness regarding customer service spans the whole range of offerings, from the cheapest take-away to top five-star outlets.
And it all comes down to one thing: staff training.
Obviously hiring the right staff plays a part, but after that it’s up to the operator to train their recruits to deliver precisely the right experience to the customer.
Yes, this takes time, and of course it requires some level of investment.
But if this is what it takes to teach and empower your staff, then so be it: the rewards for your business in the long run will more than justify the means.
After all, many areas of the Middle East pride themselves on their status as tourist destinations, holding up their hotels and restaurants as icons of true hospitality.
So it’s a sad state of affairs when we are surprised by decent service — and one that operators who fear their F&B staff may be lacking should immediately seek to address.
Otherwise it will be more than your customers who end up suffering.