NB: “Waiters” here, is gender inclusive.
There’s a lot of conversation around ensuring topnotch customer service and overall satisfaction. Also, there’s the dragging culture when the standard is not met. After all, the “customer is always right”, right? Maybe not always.
In this article, we will be seeing things from the perspective of Nigerian waiters. Let us hear from them too, because as it is, some customers do used to move mad.
One annoying set of customers I encounter a lot is time wasters. These people will summon you to place an order but will be so sluggish about it as if they are the only ones you have to attend to. There are even those who will ignore you and go on chatting with their friends. If it’s the other way round, I will not hear the end of it. How am I supposed to attend to you if you don’t tell me what you want?
Fake alerts have been an issue ever since we started accepting transfers as a mode of payment. This is because POS can be unreliable. So, I always try to be at alert, memorise faces or insist on card payments if possible. There was a guy who made a transfer and wrote down a fake number. When I called later to inform him that we hadn’t been credited, all I could hear on the other end was an angry man speaking in Hausa. Ah! This same guy walked in two weeks later, and thankfully, I recognised him. He gave excuses about how his bank had not reversed the transfer he made and he doesn’t know why the number wasn’t correct. I made sure he paid up and then he left. Had I not recognised him, he would have gotten away with it and I’ll have a salary deficit at the end of the month.
How customers react when it comes to change can be annoying. One day, a man had bought something worth 1, 100 Naira and there was no change to give him because I could not get from the bank. So I suggested he paid 1k cash and transferred the remaining 100 Naira or pay the whole 1, 100 Naira with his card instead. This man started shouting, “What kind of rubbish is this? Is this my first time of coming here?” What customers don’t understand is that it’s not a matter of being a first time customer or not. This is not my business and I have to account for the money no matter how little. Finally, he agreed to make a transfer and I gave him back his cash, but when the alert came in, it was 100 Naira I saw instead of 1,100 Naira. I thought it was a mistake, so I explained to my manager. Some days later, he came again but had on a face mask and face cap covering most part of his face. I still recognised him and drew his attention to the pending bill. Things like this just give me headache.
One of the annoying things I’ve noticed is customers who order for Amala and cause trouble because of fork and spoon. It’s their food and they can do whatever they want, but how will you nearly want to bring the roof down for cutlery and end up not using it? Isn’t that ment? Asides that, being a waiter is not all that bad. There are customers who give tips as much as 5,000 Naira. Also, my favourite type of customers are those who call to order takeouts; they rarely stress and are usually regulars, so I know how they like their food.
We’re understaffed here, and it makes the workload unbearable on some days. I double as the cashier, waiter and food server. There are times when people come in groups, I dread this because they tend to make my work harder than it already is. Say they are six in the group, you’ll finish taking an order for Jellof rice from two people only for the rest to order the same thing after saying they wanted something else. It irritates me. Why can’t you make up your mind? Meanwhile, other customers will be calling for my attention:”You’ve not attended to me!” “I’ve been calling you!””Why haven’t you brought my order?”This is why I prefer when groups make decisive orders at once. I understand that people can develop appetite for something other than planned, but it can be very stressful coming back when I should be moving on to other customers.
Some customers think because I’m here waiting on them, I don’t have plans for my life or maybe I did not go to school. How can you just be rude, dismissive and hostile for no reason? Although, I have learnt to not let such customers get to me. I remind myself that it’s not their fault, I am only here to work for my money. Whatever issues they have that makes them act a certain way is not my business.