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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Satisfaction at Sam Smith’s

Funny Pub sign

Photo by meophamman

After being confronted with rude staff at The Fitzroy Tavern last night, I went online to find where I could lodge a complaint (I doubt I would actually have done so). Amazingly, it seems that the Samuel Smith Brewery does not maintain a website. Judging by the comments at the above Beer in the Evening link, I am not the only one to have had an unpleasant evening at the pub. This brings to mind two things:

  1. Even when the “independence” of the individual pubs is taken into account, I find it stunning that such a major company does not maintain a website. Without a “shop window” providing information on drinks and venues, not to mention the rich heritage of the brewery, the company leaves themselves open to misrepresentation by third parties.
  2. What measures of staff evaluation take place? Staff are a vital component to a pleasant experience. If employees were segmented into three categories – those that love their job, those that like their job but have no great loyalty to the firm or industry, and those that are in it purely to pay the bills – I don’t think it would be unfair to say that pubs contain more employees within the third segment than an organisation such as Greenpeace. Because of this, there needs to be greater emphasis on ensuring the staff don’t dislike their job. Training should be full, hours should be reasonable and conditions should be exemplary. Unmotivated, unsatisfied – or just plain rude – staff will pass on their negativity to patrons.

I could not find any evidence of customer satisfaction surveys nor mystery shopping online. I would be interested to know whether such methods are used to assess performance.

Does it matter? The brewery remains very successful, and there are many pluses in the organisation’s favour – extremely cheap prices, a good selection of drinks, a relatively environmentally friendly policy, strong locations and (generally) a good atmosphere.

And will this experience put me off going? Probably not. The pros outweigh the cons for me. But my advocacy of Sam Smith’s has been tempered. It is a shame that they only appear to “make do”, rather than provide the best experience possible. Friendlier employees and a website facilitating direct communication are two small steps that can go a long way to achieving this.