Have service standards dropped since pre-pandemic?

Have service standards dropped since pre-pandemic?

The last few years have been hard on hospitality, as businesses have suffered a double-whammy of pandemic-related issues, in addition to a vast loss of workforce due to Brexit. Due to recruitment issues and businesses being short-staffed due to self-isolation, It’s clear that in circumstances like these, pre-pandemic service standards might be challenging to maintain. The question is, have you noticed service standards slipping as you’ve been eating out more? We asked you in our latest survey and have shared the results with the brands we work with. Here’s what you had to say…

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Your say on service

Unfortunately, they indeed have, as a majority of you (61%) believe service standards have slipped during the pandemic. From a demographic perspective, there are two age groups that stand out that seem particularly disgruntled, and those are the 26-35 age group (63% dissatisfied) and 36-45 age group (70% dissatisfied) – both can be categorised as ‘millennials’; arguably the biggest consumers of hospitality services.

All other age groups are below the median (61%), with, interestingly, the 66+ age group being the least dissatisfied (48%). Whilst women are stereotypically portrayed as more complaint-prone, according to the results of our survey, male consumers are more likely to be disappointed with service standards (65%) than female consumers (59%).

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Service areas that have taken a hit

Service has suffered in some areas more than others, and it was really useful for us to get your perceptions so that brands know where to focus their recruitment efforts into areas that need it most. Here's a breakdown of the service areas that have led to disappointing experiences by customers:

  1. Service quality (43%)
  2. Service speed (32%)
  3. Atmosphere (17%)
  4. Food quality (8%)

So, what can be done when businesses are short-staffed, whilst also struggling to recruit? Well, we asked you whether you would be more lenient towards any service issues if you knew that the venue was trying, but struggling, to recruit, and the answer was, overwhelmingly – yes.

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Service mishaps

Almost three out of four (71%) of you said you would be more inclined to forgive service mishaps if you knew about the venue’s recruitment struggles.

In sharing these results with hospitality businesses, we’ve made some suggestions:

- Have a ‘staff wanted’ poster on the wall

- A little card on the table asking nicely for a little patience

- A server explaining to customers at the start of their experience that they are short-staffed.

This most of course only be a short-term measure, as 67% of you quite rightly said that this would work the first time, but not for the second time that you visit that venue.

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Your suggestions

We asked you what you thought hospitality businesses should do to combat recruitment issues and (51%) suggested that venues should reduce table numbers / the size of the area being served. Almost a third (31%) of you would be happy to order from a reduced menu, if necessary, and 13% would prefer if the venue operated on reduced hours. A small percentage of you (5%), however, believe a venue should ‘power through it’ and not use any temporary measures to help alleviate pressure from being understaffed.

Interestingly, 36–45-year-olds seem to be the toughest age group, because as many as 10% believe venues should just try to deal with the difficult situation, without implementing any alleviating measures. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Gen-Z (18-25-year-olds), as none of them believe venues should just try to cope, nor do they think reducing opening hours is a good idea. Instead, almost two thirds (65%) of Gen-Z consumers would be happy to accept a reduced number of tables / smaller serving areas as a temporary measure, and the rest would prefer to order off a reduced menu, if that helps a venue when they are understaffed.

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