Service at KFC
Sunil G. Wijesinha has an interesting article in the Mirror about Sri Lankan service culture, or the lack thereof. He’s got some interesting stories from his times at the ETF and Dankotuwa Porcelain. Sri Lanka is strange because you can get excellent service at streetside kades or dodgy bars and then awful service at much more expensive places. I will say that most 5-star hotels have gotten better, but not commensurate with their cost.
Sri Lanka is also interesting in that there is a service culture of sorts, but it tends to funnel people out of the country. I’ve talked to Colombo restaurant owners who say that they find talented service people at other restaurants or outstation, train them in Colombo, and that those staff in turn get recruited abroad, like to the Middle East. Which is not bad in itself, people should earn more money, but one hopes that the funnel gets bigger and wider.
Sri Lanka is seeing a boom in restaurants, shops and hotels, but (from a tourism perspective) we have to remember that we’re still priced higher than places like Thailand or the Philippines and that, our natural friendliness aside, we have much worse service. We also have to get over that favoring tourists (AKA white people) thing, because service should be service and the new middle class deserves and should demand better.
For me the best service I’ve gotten has been at places like Shiraz or Cup Cafe where the owner is physically there, minding the till, cleaning tables, serving food, talking to people. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s perhaps why the service at kades is often good as well, because the owner is also serving the customers. The worst service is at places with no discernible owner and where the staff is not empowered to make any sort of decision or adjustment.
So that’s two cultural changes which could make an immediate difference – owners could show up, and staff should be empowered to make adjustments for the customer. The overriding trend, however, is that as more places open up they’ll have to compete, and compete based on services. Inshallah.