Poor customer service has an instant impact on sales. Just ask Ruben Carmona, international operations manager at D+1, a hospitality group based in Singapore. On a recent trip to Sydney he walked into a cocktail bar to see the venue’s bartenders doing shots with a group of guests at the bar.
“I thought they must be good customers, and the bartenders wanted to entertain them,” he says. “We sat on one of the sofas and waited for the menus to be brought. But nobody came. Eventually I got up and went to the bar to ask for menus, and saw that they had served another round of shots. So, I found a menu myself and returned to the sofa to choose my drink.” Fifteen minutes later, to his surprise, still nobody had come to take their order. What did he do? “We decided it wasn't the best place to drink, and left.”
"Training is essential so that a business does not depend on a single person, but can work as a team to give quality service”
That’s an extreme situation, leading directly to a lost revenue opportunity. But Ruben reckons poor customer service can lose you customers in more subtle ways too. “One of the issues that annoys me is when bar staff don’t understand the products they’re selling,” he says. “I don't just mean very technical knowledge. But when they don't even know how to answer basic questions, it gives customers a bad feeling.” The result? Each "bad feeling" leads to a loss of confidence in the venue, and eventually fewer chances of repeat business.
For Ruben, the answer is training. “Training is important because it benefits the employee and therefore the customer. It’s also essential so that a business does not depend on a single person, but can work as a team to give quality service.”
But if the benefits are obvious, why do many hospitality groups still not have a functioning training program in place? “Many times, it’s a problem of planning and execution,” says Ruben. “Many companies have people with a lot of knowledge, but there isn’t a clear and constant process for that to be communicated to other employees.”
“Small Batch Learning is specialized in food and beverage, with many functions and a very intuitive design for the staff”
Ruben’s own solution is Small Batch Learning. The company has now started to use the online beverage training for 35 staff members at Tapas Club, one of D+1’s three brands. The franchise has five outlets (three in Singapore, one in Malaysia and one in Indonesia) with more slated for opening in India. “I like Small Batch Learning because it’s specialized in food and beverage, with many functions and a very intuitive design for the staff.”
One of those f&b-focused functions is the Virtual Menu, which solves Ruben’s previously mentioned headache of staff not understanding products. He also appreciates how Small Batch Learning’s mobile-friendly platform helps his teams better engage with training. “Apart from content, choosing the right time and format – when and how training is done – can give it much greater impact,” he says. “With Small Batch Learning, all my staff receive the same information, but they can view it at the time that’s most convenient for them.”
For Ruben, the goal of training is good service, which he thinks should be “a balance between professionalism and fun.” “The professionalism comes from the knowledge of the product and how confident your staff feels with any questions or recommendations, he explains. “The other part comes when the team has fun working – but this can only be achieved with good planning, so staff understand the division of tasks.”
Training, therefore, ultimately helps staff enjoy the job. But not at the expense of others – as in those bartenders doing shots with some customers and ignoring the rest. But the fun that comes with confidence in doing your job properly, having systems in place to make service run smoothly, and being able to work as a team. “And that’s when staff will transmit good vibes to the diner,” says Ruben.
To find out more about Tapas Club and D+1, visit www.dplus1.com.