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  • The Storyteller

Chinese Fine Dining: Finesse (or the lack of) in Communication

The group walked in for lunch at Li Bai at Sheraton Tower - without prior booking - at noon during a weekday and requested for a table for three.

The hostess asked them to wait for a moment, and took a considerable amount of time to do some manual tallying of the reservations on the list and the number of vacant tables in the room. It gave the impression of not being service ready and dare I say, not competent?

Moments later, she offered the diners a table, but added that she would need it back by 12.45pm. When one of them commented that it was too short as it was less than 40 minutes at that point, the hostess responded with an incredulous, “40 minutes should be alright.” She went on to show the group the reservation list – perhaps as proof? – that there were several other bookings at noon and at 12.45pm. She repeated with, “I think 45 minutes is ok for you all.”

It had to be said that the hostess had not spoken in an unkind tone, not intentionally at least. Still, the communication lacked tact and finesse for not just this Chinese fine dining restaurant, but for any establishments which consider themselves to be in the hospitality industry.

Service Bank: Minus 3

Reflective thoughts: How could the above employee have handled the situation in a more appropriate manner? What are some instances whereby your team members had meant well, but delivered in a way that got misunderstood by the guests/customers?

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