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Wednesday, October 12


Service is defined very differently here in Deutschland. I can go as far as saying it’s still the one area that needs some work, actually it completely lacks compared to other countries I’ve visited.

Restaurant service works on a different model than in America. In America, hosts greet customers as soon as they enter and take them to the seats. In Deutschland there are no hosts; customers seat themselves, generally. If a restaurant is really busy then a server helps to find the next available seat. Then a server comes to take drink orders and generally brings glasses of water for the table, in America. Here, they take the drink orders but also ask for water orders. Water isn’t free so the question is stilles or gas? (Still or Natural- both bottled.) Once the server brings out the drinks, customers order their dinner, as is the case in America.

Here’s the major difference between restaurant services in the two countries. Here once the dinner order is placed, the server is rarely seen or asks for anything else. If drinks are finished, it is the customer’s responsibility to flag down the server to let them know. Once the food comes out (sometimes with the server, sometimes with a food-runner) and if there is a problem, again the customer has to flag down the server for attention. This is especially trying when the entire restaurant is packed. The same rule applies for checks. Once the dinner plates are cleared, the server is still buzzing around the restaurant taking care of other tables. In Germany (and possibly all of Europe) it is considered rude and hurried for a server to bring customers’ checks to their table soon after dinner/dessert is finished. Also important to note is dining- out, like coffee breaks, is special; customers dine for hours and hours and don’t want to be interrupted when enjoying the company of their friends and family. And the other side of the coin is the server wages. Wages here are much better than in America for servers therefore the need to be overly friendly and turnover tables quickly doesn’t exist. Servers work on a decent wage therefore their isn’t the need to get more and more customers on their tables in one night. Coming from a food industry, I do like this about the German system. I appreciate that German servers get good wages and aren’t having to work extra hard and be extra nice for their tips. I must add, customers tip about 5- 10% at the end of the meal for extraordinary service. Otherwise, customers round up their bill to the next whole number.

And although I understand the restaurant server system, I can’t say I agree with it completely. I like that the servers aren’t working on below minimum wage, like in America, but I would also appreciate some attention to the customers since we are paying for the meal. More than me, I am married to someone that is very impatient so this concept of flagging down a server for another drink or waiting for a check is beyond tolerable.

Moving away from restaurants customer service, in general, is unresponsive. Having lived in America and India and knowing the Indian culture, the customer service in Deutschland doesn’t come close to anything we’ve experienced in either countries. Here, when a company makes a mistake they don’t apologize or try to fix the problem, instead they offer another product or appointment time to make it better. We’ve experienced this couple times, say Internet Saga and Part II. Neither of the companies we are currently working with have apologized that it’s taken this long to get Internet or as much as try to find the problem and fix it. It’s startling to us both that one company went as far as saying that we had to find the main cable box ourselves if we wanted Internet.

It is often said, Germans very rarely apologize for a mistake. The idea is if they apologize then that’s admitting they have done wrong and *gasp* one cannot admit they are wrong. Which leads to accountability; there isn’t any of it. People generally pass the blame on anyone and anything to save themselves from the blame. So the bottom line is if they don’t apologize then they are not admitting to being at fault which means they aren’t wrong, someone else is.

Like when we ordered our kitchen. We talked to 5 different people in the course of 24 hours to figure out what the problem was with the scheduled delivery date and each person blamed the previous person we talked to. Finally the last guy said it was the sales associate, Viktor, we ordered the kitchen from who made a mistake. We never talked to Viktor to find out the truth to that but it was so easy to blame him since he wouldn’t to be able to defend himself on that phone call.

So the least I can say is although Germany has done some things right, customer service isn’t one of them. That’s an area that needs many, many more years of improvement before it can compare to other countries.

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