A survey of UK consumers has found that restaurant service remains a more important factor than food pricing to drive whether diners make recommendations to friends and family or leave a restaurant early.
The latest research from the customer intelligence company Market Force Europe (formerly Retail Eyes) revealed 35 per cent of people felt service was the most important aspect of a restaurant compared to just 18 per cent who said it was price.
In the research, hotels came out top of a survey of customer poll of which industry they thought provided the best service. While just over 30 per cent of those asked thought hotels provided the best service, 23.42 per cent of people chose restaurants putting the sector second over other industries including banks, departments stores and supermarkets.
However Tim Ogle, chief executive for Market Force Europe, said the statistic that 77 per cent of the 5,000 consumers polled said they would leave a restaurant early due to bad service should also be of interest to the industry.
“The large proportion of people saying they’ve left a restaurant due to a poor service should be a wake-up call to the industry. Our research found that more than eight in 10 people feel that staff appearance affects the overall impression of the service received. It’s these little gems of insight that will have an impact on transactions and repeat visits,” Ogle said.
The Market Force research also suggests that speed or a perceived lack of interest impacted how good diners felt the service provided was. 45 per cent of people said their biggest bugbear was slow service while almost a third said staff not showing interest left them dissatisfied with their restaurant experience.
Staff training over discounting
Ogle added that employee training could be more beneficial to a restaurant than discounting.
“The results of this survey have clearly shown that while restaurants may look to attract customers in with tempting promotions, the service they deliver will have a more lasting impact to brands and businesses within the industry. As restaurants jockey for more of our precious consumer spend, it’s a lesson these better operators are proving the rule,” he said.
Speaking to BigHospitality at Hotelympia 2012 after announcing the launch of a new service college course with Westminster Kingsway College , Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin At Windows said service in the UK was improving.
"I think it is important to give people what they want, whether you are hands-off or hands-on it doesn't matter. It is give people what they want and put yourself in their shoes and that's it. I think the very fact that we are talking about it means that it is going to improve and it is improving. It is good," he said.
In September 2011, Retail Eyes, which conducted the research, became a part of customer intelligence company Market Force Information. The company, which has European headquarters in the UK, provides customer intelligence to retail, restaurant, hospitality and leisure businesses.