Service from the heart

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Chit Juan

Chit Juan

I have been traveling for the past two weeks in the United States from coast to coast and have been a guest at restaurants big and small, having fast (pizza and salad) and slow food (Japanese Omakase or degustacion) and even Chinese dim sum.

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Having been educated in the Hotel and Restaurant Administration at the State University, it is ingrained or embedded in my veins to always think of service whenever I eat out or even when we serve in our own small ECHOcafe. So I observe the staff, what they do between customers’ orders, what their side duties are and generally (without them knowing) doing an audit of their service philosophy.

And this is where I wish people in the service industry would take a good look at their jobs. If you do not like people, please do not get into the hospitality industry. If your service does not come from the heart buy merely is about taking a salary, then move jobs.

My guru friend and wellness advocate Ravi tells me that it is sweeter to eat something made with one’s heart and hands, than say a chocolate made by a machine. Food also contains vibrations especially when it is artisanal or handmade. But what about who serves the food? It can be artisanal, but if service is not from the heart, the bread may taste a little sour or unpalatable.

How sad that often we just take it as a “matter of course” that fast food requires fast, quick and impersonal service. And how sad that customers never complain—they just say, “It must be because it is fast food,” or “He probably had a bad day” . . . as reasons we tolerate bad service.

If people are in the service industry then they must serve with their whole heart and their minds. Otherwise, they may as well move to an impersonal job like a production line or facing a computer all day without need for communication or relational activities.

It is a disservice to service to have front liners who bring their miseries to work. It is a disservice to customers who spend hard earned money only to be treated badly at food outlets or in other service facilities such as department stores, and anywhere the consumer comes face to face with employees (frontline).

I have my tolerance allowance when I have to eat at places where food is served quickly. I understand that speed and the general hubbub in such an environment can make one’s nerves stand on end. But why must we tolerate bad service? Everyone is entitled to good food served well, especially if you are paying premium for it.

And this is why I advocate slow food. With slow food both producer and consumer value the food itself, making service part of the whole experience of eating. How many times have you eaten at a community restaurant in the province and see the service staff behave almost like they are part of the family of the owners or founders of such a restaurant? I love eating in such places.

They say you have to pay for good service. I think everyone can extend good service if we generally hire the better people from the start. They should not be “hands and feet” who can speak all the scripts in a company manual (e.g. “Good morning Sir/Ma’am even without looking at the customer). They should be real people wanting to serve real customers.

But who cares? For as long as we tolerate bad service, firms will continue to hire “hands and feet” without brains and most importantly, heart. So we must start to care and take notice of bad service and maybe use social media to put these people in line or to mold them into shape. After all, good service even if the food is ordinary becomes a magic wand to make mediocre food taste like foie gras. Did you ever think about that?

So this is why my friend Ravi is right. Something served with the heart tastes sweeter than the best honey served with misery. And something served from the heart is delicious already even if you have not tasted it yet.

So, let’s pay attention to service. We pay for it every time we buy a quick burger or an expensive dinner at a famous restaurant. If we do not start to care, service, like bad food, will surely go down the drain.

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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph

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