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Service Standards (prt III): get to the point

An occasional look at the bits and bobs that comprise good service: this week Charlie Butterworth on why places shouldn't say that a pig is a small horse

Published on February 8th 2010.


Service Standards (prt III): get to the point

The scene
I like Frost's butchers in Chorlton. It's part of my Saturday trawl around the champion food retail suburb. My route goes: Carringtons (wines), Out of the Blue (fish), Frosts (meat) Barbakan (mysterious loaf and enigmatic pâté), Unicorn (sneer at vegans).

The only benefit goes to the business which can cut costs and make efficiencies in time-management. The customer now has to buy their pre-prepared amounts, the customer/company relationship has reversed.

It's a bag of variety which makes shopping enjoyable.

But this Saturday something was wrong in the meat republic of Frost's. The ham woman had gone. This is the lady with the motorised slicer who nods and smiles when asked to ready her tool.

“Where's the ham woman?” I asked. “I'm partial to various hams sliced to order to titillate the tongue, but it seems they're not there.”

Then the man behind the counter told me that a pig is a small horse.

A pig isn't a small horse

“We're vacuum packing them now, they're in the fridge behind,” said the butcher man. “This makes it more convenient for you?”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well they're less messy to handle, and you can open them when you want,” he said.

“But we eat it within the week. And as for convenient it means I have to buy the amounts you have packed not get the amount I want cut for me in a lovely bespoke fashion.”

The butcher paused, eyeing his cleaver.

“It's also more hygenic, less human contact, and as I said before you can keep them fresh in the packs for longer.”

I shook my head.

“Listen I've been coming here for years and as a family we're yet to catch anything serious so I'm proud of your hygiene standards and I like asking a human being to cut my ham to order. It's good service and you get what you want.”

Ham slicer is cut

Another pause, the butcher eyed his knife. Then looked at the group of customers listening to the exchange.

“It also means we don't have to employ a person over there to just cut the hams.”

“Thanks,” I said. “The real reason at last.”

The moral
In service whether in a restaurant or a butcher's or anywhere, people should be honest about the product or service they deliver.

Plainly in this case there was no benefit to the customer by not having a person slicing the ham to order. The only benefit goes to the business which can cut costs and make efficiencies in time-management. The customer now has to buy their pre-prepared amounts, take it on the chin.

It may seem trivial but such practices put doubts in your mind. There's that place in the Arndale where all the meat - chops, joints, sausages, fillets - is cheap and comes pre-packed. There are supermarkets everywhere which do the same.

As Chorlton campaigns against the rise of a vast Tesco up the road in Gorse Hill you would have thought that businesses in the suburb would do anything to avoid Tesco homogenisation practices.

Frost's Butchers is a quality place, the meat is high-end stuff, when they change the way they sell things they should tell customers exactly what's going on. They shouldn't pretend a pig is a small horse.

Service is about sincerity all the way, about building trust, consolidating reputation.

Service standards part one was about catching the eye, service standards part two was about attitude. God knows how many service standard articles we'll end up with. They're all to be found in the Food and Drink section.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

EditorialFebruary 8th 2010.

I love all you anonymous people. We'll decide if it's a story or not. This should be read with two other stories, part one and two, which we'll add links to.

John HarrisFebruary 9th 2010.

As Frosty is a regular reader I look forward to seeing his response. <br><br>And anonymous, do us all a favour, eh?

AnonymousFebruary 9th 2010.

Not so sure, still.

Hero
Katie AmosFebruary 9th 2010.

The place in the arndale may have pre-packed meats, but they are more than willing to cut open the packs and cut off the amoutn you need. They have even put a sign in the counter to say they do this to stop people being afraid to ask. They do some great mutton and goat which is great for a curry and I had a lovely pork belly from there at the weekend. Plus my Xmas Turkey from there was lovely. Oh - and just before any annoymous people kick off - I do not work there, nor do I own shares in the business etc...

NortherngeezerFebruary 9th 2010.

Agree. We might as well all of us shop at Tesco eh, he'll be vacuum packin his joints next.

TomFebruary 9th 2010.

Not a non-story in the slightest - more a look at the attitudes being taken by a business that should be willing to bend over backwards for it's clients to stop them from being swayed by the local Tescos. As John mentioned, will be interesting to see Frosty's response.

Rasta JeffFebruary 9th 2010.

No NorthernGeezer mon! Ya na can vacuum pack mi joints - mi bredda nah happy wi dat byoy. Me like dem fresh, a no See It?

NortherngeezerFebruary 9th 2010.

Tis ham rasta mannnnnnn

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