A Surprising Lack of Service and Standards

An article by Ian Graham of Swayed Greyhound about the standards or service received when on holiday in Spain

With the cold snap and the sudden rush of Christmas adverts the Summer holiday season will now be over for most of us.

My friends and colleagues with children of school age who took their holidays before my family had mentioned that they had noticed their holidays were much more expensive this year which of course sparked a Brexit related conversation but I would not dare pick such a risky subject to write a blog about!

Hearing this information sparked a bit of concern but nevertheless we booked our holiday in Spain in October and were very much looking forward to it. We did have a great time and did enjoy ourselves but were disappointed when we ate in our hotel and out in local restaurants. We found the prices quite high but didn’t think this had anything to do with the strength of the pound and think this has more to do with Spanish businesses seeing tourists and charging what they think they can get away with.

Working in sales and customer service you rarely switch off from noticing good and bad behaviour when out socially and this is no different when on holiday. You would think that because the Spanish have been hosting tourists for so long that they would be experts in exceptional customer service and I was looking forward to getting some great examples of this while away on holiday. I didn’t and it ranged from satisfactory to dreadful. What did I notice?

  • Surly or miserable looking staff (and sometimes just rude)
  • A lack of engagement with the guest
  • Unhelpful, Uninterested and Unprofessional
  • Poor standard of food

This did not matter whether you were talking in Spanish or English. Most of the time you felt like a commodity being driven through a process. I didn’t have one meal out where I felt I’d had value for money in the entire ten day holiday.

So why aren’t the Spanish showing us the way with regards to exceptional customer service? They should be considering they’ve had decades of practice and experience.

  • Is it a lack of training?
  • Is it apathy due to working too many hours/not enough staff/too big of a service area?
  • Is it a managerial or leadership issue?
  • Is it complacency?
  • Is it a resentment of tourists or a culture issue?
  • Are they resting on their laurels?
  • Are they just plain lazy or not in the right job?
  • Are they only interested in short-term profit?

Do they realise that all businesses nowadays operate in a global market thanks to social media? How many people do you think I’ve told and how likely am I to return? Can you imagine what my Tripadvisor reviews are like? This isn’t something unique to Spain. In 2014 I visited Sorrento and Rome and experienced similarly bad food and service at a price that seemed quite ridiculous.

I am still searching for the answer and would love to hear your thoughts…

There’s a lesson for us all in this. Do you know how your customers truly feel after any engagement with your organisation? Do they feel similar to the way I felt in this blog? Do they do what I did and say “Yes thanks it was fine” and publish their true feelings on social media later? These negative experiences can happen anywhere in any industry so as we approach a really busy time of year for some of us or as we make our plans for 2017 be mindful that customer experience and customer expectations are things that aren’t going away and we all need to step back sometimes and look at how we engage with customers and each other.