Is “I’m busy” an acceptable excuse?
Recently, I had dinner at a small neighborhood restaurant with two other couples. We are all small business owners, in the service industry, but not necessarily hospitality. The restaurant wasn’t super busy, but there were a few occupied tables. I had asked for a water refill from our busser. We patiently waited. Then, after noticing this same busser walking around in circles and attending to a few tables at a leisurely pace; I thought maybe he forgot. As the same staff came around, I nicely asked if we could have more water for our table. The response I received, in a nonchalant tone, was “I’m busy” and he walked away.
I was taken aback by this response. My dinner guest, who had worked in various hotels, catering and fine dining establishments would not accept this response from this young service staff. The guest approached the staff and offered to get our table serviced himself. The busser proceeded to say again, “I’m busy”. Another young busser stepped in and quickly took care of the request.
This sparked a conversation at our table. When is it acceptable to say you are too busy to provide service, meet with a client or deliver a product? In the case of the young busser, I believe there was a lack of training to help the staff prioritize service standards of the restaurant and the dining experience it wanted to provide to their patrons.
Everyone seems to be busy these days, but people who make the time to shorten the “wait time” on requests are going to be successful in providing exceptional service and will probably gain repeat customers or referrals.