This week I took another flight to San Francisco to teach our MBA students there. During the flight, a young passenger in his 20s was wearing his mask well below his nose, visibly against the rules. Another passenger asked them to pull it up but was disregarded. I looked at the flight attendant who sort of nodded but didn't do anything. I don't really blame her. The pilot himself was not a model of compliance, and I assume this is a regular occurrence.
Gad, great article. It will be interesting to see how the industry evolves through this, I hope with a new appreciation and respect emerging for this other cadre of "front line" workers for the lifestyles we all enjoy. You made me think, "huh, maybe I should go get a part-time restaurant job" (for first time since being a student) to help the cause locally!
It seems that the root cause of the friction between service workers and customers is a long-standing imbalance in the power dynamic between the two. While the service industry at large could certainly benefit from restructuring in the delivery of those services, I think some social reengineering is needed.
When looking at any interaction between hospitality workers and customers, there is a stark difference in the amount of oversight and accountability that each party has. Regardless of industry, hospitality workers have a multitude of incentives such as customer tips, raises, livelihood, and fundamentally, day-to-day sustenance and satisfaction. But on the customer side, the platitude "the customer is always right" seems to have a direct correlation with the accountability they have, with the exception of Uber's customer ratings as you mentioned. In essence, there is currently no common or effective way to more directly shape customer psychology or interactions with the business's workers.
Given this imbalanced dynamic, how do you think the service industry ought to innovate and adapt in a world where customer patience has been slashed by the convenience of online platforms?
Great article! I'm really curious to hear how this phenomenon plays out in the health care sector with nurses. Do you know of anyone researching that question?
I was recently at a Buffalo Wild Wings on a packed night and sat down at a table in the middle of the restaurant with a group of 5 friends to watch the baseball game (sad outcome, Giants lost). It took 45 minutes for a waiter to come to us, apologize for the wait, and tell us that he still could not take our order because his co-worker was supposed to be covering our table. He told us they were extremely short-staffed, and because they re-arranged their tables to follow COVID guidelines, their system could not track which tables were occupied and which weren't.
BWW has long had service issues. Over the past two years, even pre-COVID times, they were notorious for long wait times. But it seems that they are not investing in improving operations, and are instead focused on preparing for drone delivery and other automation. Is it reasonable to expect large restaurant chains to focus on investing in improving day-to-day operations in the current dining model when customers would much rather enjoy delivery and getting food without the hassle of interacting with employees?
Why would it make sense for a store like BWW to focus on improving their current operations, when demand has prevailed for their services?