Having worked in restaurants and cafes for a number of years, I find some of the little outdated details of customer service really interesting… one classic example is when restaurants won’t split bills for small or large groups.
Now I’m not talking about itemising every last dollar a customer spends when they’re in a big group, generally leaving the last person to pay contributing more because one of the friends forgot the bowl of fries and extra soft drink they ordered, I’m talking about making it easy for customers to pay different amounts as they like. It is common practice nowadays for people to walk around with no cash on them. I for one very rarely have cash, and with the ease of tap and go credit card transactions, it really doesn’t take that much more time.
It has always been a bug bear of mine….. Enjoying a delicious meal with friends and having a great night with great service only to find that the venue won’t split the bill, dampening my overall experience for the night. Usually one of three things happens… One person puts the whole amount on their card and deals with trying to get money back off everyone (awkward), some of us leave the restaurant to go get money out from an ATM (even more awkward) or there is an (especially awkward) conversation with wait staff about trying to put it on several cards. The wait staff have heard it all before and find it uncomfortable, and it leaves a very sour taste in the mouth of the diners in what would have otherwise been a great dining experience.
I know venues are charged transaction fees and this is often an explanation for why they don’t split bills, however I think in this day and age it should be a perfectly acceptable practice.
If I am organising a group dinner, which is a common occurrence for me, I won’t book some of the restaurants I would really like to go to as they don’t split bills. I’d rather not go there than cause a hassle for people that I’m dinning with to either go to a nearby ATM, or to do the whole counting of cash thing at the table. It should be easier than ever to allow people to split bills. I’m not condoning having wait staff work out who had what etc. because frankly it’s a waste of their time and a pain (I’ve been there), however with modern wiz bang POS systems and tap and go card it should just be acceptable to allow spilt bills.
It’s the small gestures of goodwill that go a long way and ensure that your customers keep coming back. Providing good customer service goes so much further than just friendly wait staff. It’s about offering options and conveniences to your customers in a day and age where people don’t carry cash and are time poor. It seems only reasonable to me that allowing your customers to split bills should be common place.
So is it time for the industry to re-adjust to allow diners to split bills again? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And don’t even get me started on credit card surcharges…
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: