In this, my time of transition, I have had increased exposure to the “bar-and-grill” variety of restaurant. As utensils have been packed or The Wife has been out of town, I have frequented a fair number of what I consider to be “mid-level” eateries; sit-down establishments in the vein of Chili’s or TGI Friday’s. Though it is certainly nothing to make me never go back, I have noticed an unusual practice begin to take root.
It may be that I am witness to some sort of non-standard formula, and that this really isn’t growing in prevalence. Still, it is a bit irksome. A waiter comes to my table and takes my order. Before my food comes, he stops by a couple of times to refill my water. But when the food comes to my table, it is someone new who brings it. Sometimes this person is obviously a cook or “backend” personnel who is not presentably dressed, like my waiter. Not dirty, but not presentable. In every case, this new person has no idea what I ordered. So, depending on how many individuals are at the table, a disorganized game of “Where Does This Plate Go?” or “Who Ordered The Fries?” ensues.
This reminded me of a discussion I once had with an employer about continuity as part of user experience on the web. People don’t like it when a familiar process is changed or altered. You’re expecting one thing, and something else happens. I believe the specific issue I was evangelizing with my employer was an order process. He saw nothing wrong with sending the customer to a different website to enter their payment details as long as the new site “looked like the old one.” My argument was that customers who buy online pay attention to URLs and would be less likely to trust a payment process that took place at a strange URL — especially when there was no advisement that a new URL would be used to process the transaction.
Has the role of the waiter changed without anyone telling me? It’s not a huge deal, but it does affect my experience as a customer. I am less inclined to leave a good tip because the waiter has, in my mind, done less that his job. I don’t necessarily feel valued or served, either. My past experience is my frame of reference. Instead of dealing with one person for all my needs, I now deal with 2 or 3? The process has changed, and no one told me.
Don’t change an expected process without research and proper advisement. It’s just good manners.