Service with a SMILE

Every month I set a day aside to go through our online feedback and reviews looking for ways to improve or build upon our offer and service and yesterday was that day. It is an opportunity for me to look and see if any of our staff deserve a SMILE award – (Service that goes the extra MILE – see what we’ve done there….) whilst monitoring the negative and indifferent for ways to improve. Its not always an easy job but essential all the same.

It’s great that we get far more 5 stars than 1 stars but often I find it’s too easy to focus on the negative, it’s the way the world works, negative is in front our eyes daily and everyone seems to find it far easier to post the negative. I check every day for the negative so I can fix/investigate and reply to anyone who has a poor experience with us, leaving the positive to my monthly check.

Each morning I open my inbox to emails from TripAdvisor, Google review notifications or from the website, I also cover 6 different Facebook & twitter accounts with regular notifications on posts and DMs which can be annoying sometimes, especially whilst I’m watching Emmerdale sipping on cooking lager of an evening. That’s before the hours I spend on twitter & Facebook looking for mentions or tweets that don’t tag us in – I can recognise any of our tables, chairs or walls in posts!. That’s why it is right that we take time to focus on the positive, feedback to our staff when they have done something good and in general reward them for a job well done.

Service is subjective and as such I have to take every single review, comment or post with that in mind – some want fast service, some want some conversation, some want a recommendation and some want to choose themselves etc.. Review sites for pubs are like Untapped for brewers – taste is subjective as is service. Personally I prefer a German discount shop where my shopping is scanned at the speed of light and I’m being asked Cash or Card 5 seconds after I put the shopping on the belt whereas some must prefer it taking an age and being asked if I’ve had a good day, do I need help with my packing and ‘ooh never had this, does it actually taste of Grapefruit?’ Each to their own I suppose but because it takes me 5 minutes longer in Asda doesn’t mean that I have had bad service, just service that I don’t like as much as others.

With regards to reviews or the emails I get, it is generally very easy to pick up which are genuine, the people who have a point, the frustrated, the moaners as well as those who have really enjoyed their visit, apart from some belters which I am not sure how to deal with? “Best Pie I’ve ever eaten – 3* out of 5″. As for others, I don’t think I would have an answer that would satisfy the comments and there is no point in trying – (if I was internet or PC savvy I’m sure I could turn in to a positive marketing tool). “Stay away unless you want ripping off on expensive foreign lager [Paulaner – £4] there is a ‘spoons 5 minute walk away that sells normal beers like Carlsberg & Fosters cheaper and better – 1*”.

In general though I love to get feedback both bad and good. It’s the only way to improve and much better than people not telling you and then staying away but all I’d like to get across is just give us a chance first. The thing I find each time I do this is the way people complain or praise is changing and without harking back to ‘It was better in my days’ – (it wasn’t, it never is) I’m glad social media wasn’t around when I managed individual pubs. Before social media if you weren’t happy about your drink you took it back to the bar and said so, the beer got exchanged with minimum of fuss, now folks sit 7 foot away from a bar they visit 5 times a week and post on Facebook that they think their pint of bitter is past its best. That I just don’t understand.

If you are unhappy, before you feel the need to put online to millions that a beer was crap, the server forgot your gravy or someone jumped the queue please be aware that the impact this could have on the people in the business just trying their best in a tough industry at a very difficult time. We don’t have a marketing team, we are not a PLC and we don’t employ robots – we are a passionate independent company made up of lots of individuals who care. Nobody sets out to give bad service and in majority of cases it is a simple mistake but businesses like ours take things to heart.

So if you are unhappy let me know, I really want to know – you can find me on all social media direct messages or email ( or phone, likewise if you are happy please do the same as I have 60 staff members all hoping for a SMILE and would be really nice to focus on the positive.