Fast and efficient not always best approach in service

Two weeks ago, my family and I took a local carrier to Bandung for a holiday.

The airline staff worked quickly and efficiently - though not in a good way.

The stewardess spoke very fast in her announcements, which made it hard to follow what she was saying.

The meal time was also short.

I had barely finished when the stewardess started to collect the trays. Coffee had not even been served yet.

As I returned my tray, I noticed that she had pots of coffee with her and asked for a cup.

When she passed it to me, the coffee spilled all over my wife.

I am not sure if the stewardess noticed it, but my wife had to ask for serviettes. The stewardess handed us a few pieces and just walked away (Get rid of poor service staff, let only the fittest survive; June 10).

In contrast, during our five days in Bandung, we were delighted by the friendly and attentive service staff - room service, front desk, waiters and driver - even though we were on a budget trip.

The budget hotel was well-run and the staff were well-trained, motivated and had a good attitude and disposition.

On the last night of our stay, my daughter had an upset stomach and vomited and soiled the blanket.

My wife made a call to the front desk. Even though it was past 1.30am, a friendly hotel staff member came to our room within three minutes.

He looked slightly amused by the mess. He took the blanket away and quickly came back with a clean one. He then laid it out nicely and wished us a good night before leaving.

The contrast between the two experiences is stark.

It is the small things that can make a difference to a person's entire experience.

Ho Tong Fatt

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Fast and efficient not always best approach in service'. Print Edition | Subscribe