MYSTERY SHOPPER: Dubai steakhouses

At four Dubai steakhouses, was service well done or totally rare?
FOOD & BEVERAGE, REPORTS, Dubai steak houses

This month, Ethos Consultancy’s team of mystery shoppers went undercover at four selected steakhouses around Dubai, to find out whether customer service was well done or totally rare

This month: Steakhouses


The chosen locations were:

• Butcher Shop & Grill, JBR — 71%
• Inferno, Dubai Marina Walk — 69%
• The Meat Co, Souk Al Bahar — 65%
• St. Tropez, Century Village — 58%

Each mystery shopper is instructed to look out for the following:
Sales and service
Overall experience

The expert analysis:
In this month’s Service Spy we compare the service delivery performance at four of Dubai’s most popular steakhouses.

Unless you’re vegetarian, I bet the word steakhouse brings a few favourites to mind. Does your favourite lean more towards the steak quality, cooking technique, or perhaps where the product originates from? Or will your loyalty hold true only if the service is consistently brilliant?

Most would agree it’s a bit of everything — but if the service is actively terrible, diners rarely return and may even share their negative experience with others.

Looking at this month’s overall mystery shopping score, 66% (an average of all visits), the performance across these four restaurants was surprisingly low compared to previous months.

So what went wrong? As the results graph indicates, the sales and service quality category let all restaurants down.

With scores as low as 41% in this category, staff lost points for failing to make suggestions to their customers about drinks, starters and appetisers — and only a quarter of our mystery shoppers reported their waiter checking they were happy with their meal and experience at least twice during the course of the visit.

Similarly, only 25% said their waiters introduced themselves when handing over the menus.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for this month’s four steakhouses. Although there is definite room for improvement in the sales and service category, premises- and food-related scores were very acceptable.

Some other highlights from this month’s shopper reports were that:
• 100% of waiters were described as friendly, upbeat and outgoing;
• 75% of waiters repeated orders back to the customer to check it was correct;
• 87% of waiters cleared their customer’s table within a reasonable amount of time after the meal was complete;
• 100% of waiters offered appropriate condiments and wet napkins automatically without having to be prompted;
• 100% of waiters honoured special requests made by customers without having to be reminded;
• 75% of our shoppers indicated they would be very likely or likely to recommend the outlet to family and friends.

What could have been better?

• This month’s low sales and service scores indicate a need for some staff training.
According to our reports, product knowledge was not the problem, with all except one waiter scoring top points in that department. The real issue appears to be twofold: firstly, waiting staff need to be taught the art of asking appropriate questions to ascertain their customers’ needs. Teach your staff how to ask appropriate questions so their drink, appetiser or post-meal dessert and coffee suggestions are relevant, and don’t simply leave the customer feeling as though they are being forced or tricked into spending more money.
Secondly, provide your staff with an incentive to start testing out what they have learnt by offering small ‘fun’ rewards to keep staff motivated and politely pushing products of your choice.
• If professional customer service and sales training isn’t in your budget, organise regular ‘staff meets’ where by senior and more experienced staff take the lead and pass some of their tried-and-tested techniques across to younger and less experienced staff.
• If you read last month’s burger joint assessment recommendations, you may remember that consistent, friendly table visits by managers (with names and designation clearly visible) was on the list. Well, it’s back again!
Not only were managers hard to recognise this month, none actually visited any of our shoppers to have a friendly chat and enquire about their experience. A visit by a manager shows professionalism and a genuine interest in your customer’s experience.

Caterer Middle East has partnered up with customer service experts Ethos Consultancy to highlight F&B service standards at outlets across the UAE. Each month, we’ll reveal mystery shoppers’ assessments of four different F&B outlets, to explore what these venues are doing right and what could be improved.

This isn’t about catching F&B outlets with their trousers down: by measuring performance and providing expert advice on areas for improvement, we want to help better these operations — and the industry in general.

Ethos Consultancy’s trained mystery shoppers are given a specific selection of outlets. Each shopper visits their assigned restaurant and dines as usual. Within 24 hours of every experience, each shopper fills out an online report, providing Ethos consultants with the information they require to offer constructive advice.


Originating in the UK in 1995, Ethos Consultancy relocated to Dubai in 2003, where a team of five has grown to 50 — with an Abu Dhabi office opening in 2008. Our consultants have come from some of the most mature customer service markets in the world, ensuring experience and best practice in everything we do.

Ethos prides itself on being at the forefront of online customer service solutions and was awarded Most Innovative Small Business in the UAE at the 2008 Lloyds TSB Small Business Awards.

Through years of experience, Ethos has developed a variety of services to help clients understand how their business is performing. Our solutions include mystery shopping, satisfaction surveys and a range of benchmarking services. Once clients have a clear understanding of how they are performing, we help them improve via training, consulting and implementation of The International Customer Service Standard.

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