Diners in the UK have been asked what they find least appealing about waiting staff in restaurants, and over-attentive waiters have been named as the most irritating aspect of dining.
A survey of just under 900 diners was commissioned by the restaurant critic Barry Verber, who has been dubbed by some as the “Jeremy Paxman of the dinner table”. When the results came in, just under half of those questioned said that what ruined a dining experience for them the most was a waiter who interrupted every five minutes to ask if everything was okay, constantly topped up wine glasses and took away plates before the diner was finished with their meal.
Other ‘popular’ annoyances included waiters who were under attentive, had an unkempt appearance, coughed while serving meals and struggled to keep their body odour under check.
Tell the world you’re not happy!
Only five percent of people asked said they would still leave a tip even if they had experienced bad service. Four out of every ten unhappy dinners said they’d go as far as posting their displeasure on Twitter or Facebook while still dining, and a third of those questioned said they would write a negative review on TripAdvisor once they had gotten home.
Every single diner who took part in the survey said they would not return to a restaurant where they’d experienced poor service.
“The research reveals that while it’s important for waiters not to neglect customers, being too eager to please can prove even more annoying,” said Verber. “Dining out should be a time to relax and enjoy good food with pleasant company, so it’s not surprising that having a meal constantly interrupted leaves a bad taste in many diners’ mouths. “Restaurant owners who want to stay in business would be wise to make sure their customer service is as appealing as their menu, as it’s clear from the study that Brits don’t give second chances.”
Providing a great dining experience brings its own reward
The people questioned in the survey said they considered that a decent restaurant needs respectfully attentive, professional and courteous staff who know everything about their menu and other products. This typically rewards the restaurant with a ten percent tip and a personal thank you.
Following a favourable dining experience, twenty-three percent of diners wrote about it on TripAdvisor, thirty-one percent shared their approval via social networking, and eighty-eight percent of those questioned said they would be more than likely to return.
Perhaps most importantly of all, all 894 respondents said they would recommend a restaurant to their friends and family if they experienced an enjoyable meal there.
“The rise of social media has changed the face of dining out forever as it’s now much easier to read about diners’ experiences, good and bad.” continued Verber. “Restaurants need to fully consider the impact of negative reviews in a social context as personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are key to driving new business.”