Category Archives: restaurant

service efficiency – managing the wait

South Korean tourists are known to be impatient, represented by the well-known word ‘ppali-ppali’, meaning ‘fast, fast’. Waiting time does play a big role in making a service business a success or a failure. If you can’t make it shorter, you may as well look for other options to make it at least more enjoyable.

200811_seoul_cafe01

This Call / Bill / Water button set is available on all tables in this cafe in Seoul (Shinsa-dong). Compared to the more typical model of just pressing the button to call the waiter, this eliminates one additional visit to inquire about what the customer wants.

200811_seoul_cafe02

The opposite example is also found at this self-service cafe chain called pascucci. Once you place your order, you are given this little pager. You go and sit at the table of your choice, instead of waiting around the busy counter. When your drinks are ready to be picked up, it will light up.

200811_seoul_cafe03

200811_seoul_cafe04

I would rate these two systems high because of their simplicity for use and implementation, requiring minimal modification in the existing infrastructure and workflow knowledge, hence lowering the barrier to the initial adoption. A contrasting example would be McDonalds’ ‘Touch Order’ trial together with SK Telecom. RFID reader was provided to be plugged into the mobile phone to enable ordering through touching the menu, with the bill to be topped up in the phone bill. When the order is ready, a text message is sent to the phone to alert the customer to pick the food up. One reviewer righteously complained: “Ordering was fast indeed. But no one paid attention to my order behind the counter so I ended up getting the food much later.” Managing the human skills and habits will still be the prevalent issue in deploying a service backed by new technology.

proof of freshness

at a casual restaurant in accra, customers order first which items they want on their plates. the prepared plates get these white caps till they are finally handed to the paid customers.

accra restaurant

at a korean restaurant in shanghai, all tables are set with plates and cutlery covered till customers are seated on the table.

a korean restaurant, shanghai

at a restaurant in tokyo (tokatsu tonki in meguro), toothpicks are covered with a clear glass.

bottle caps

at a street cafe in accra, bottled drinks are served with half-open bottle caps.

bottle  caps

some of these are for practical reasons, some more symbolic to show their service mentality. i do get my tiny moments of happiness when i can sense that someone has thought through how the customer would feel about their service and the food.

on a slight tangent, i cant help thinking about various possible seals on digital information, for instance – ‘freshness – from within 1 day’, ‘authenticity’, or ‘exclusivity’. in the late 90’s of the internet age, reputation and social recommendation systems were a big topic (or at least around T.J.Watson research center where I worked as a student). internet is a social place & inherently everything’s centered/centering around people behind, but i believe we are reaching an era in which some parts of the society will demand digital information identity as much as humans’ that does not get subjected to the democracy of people’s behaviors and subjective opinions.