Responding to a Reading
Emily Raine, in the article "Why Should I be Nice to you? Coffee Shops and the Politics of Good Service” confronts the misconception in the service industry that has redefined the term good service. She clearly outlines the misconception of the term where she gives the experiences of the people serving and the customers. This paper gives a critical view of Emily Raine’s article and takes a critical look at the hospitality industry which needs a transformation on the side of the employers.
The paper challenges statements from managers of the hospitality industry that there is a relationship of trust and confidence between the employees and employer. These claims are only theoretical as stated in Emily Raine’s article. The article gives examples to support her views which are all accounted for in this essay. These examples make the reader have a different perspective and makes one perfectly agree with her sentiments about the hospitality industry. The employees are just puppets of the employer and do the job to please the boss rather than the customer all in the name of good service; where they act as puppets and robots on the job. It must be noted that in this case politics figuratively means unfair play in the industry.
Having been a worker in the services industry i.e. dining, cocktail waitress, counter worker, and coffee server, Emily speaks from experience. She acclaims that the employers of this industry short changes the employees through poor pay, long shifts, and odd dispersed shift hours (Raine, para.1). She found the work to be boring and in most cases monotonous where the workers were forced to be like robots; while the managers kept on demanding and the customers were ungrateful. As Emily explains the workers are bound by service professionalism, the heart to be nice and worst of all the fear to be fired. I categorically agree to this seeing the way service industry employees keep on making the customer happy through fake imposed smiles that are present when every customer passes.
In the name of good service the coffee servers have been made to be human robots, in the line of duty; while they establish minimal contact with the customer at all times which should be less than ten seconds so as to serve as many customers as possible. This is explained by the linear coffee bar model where each employee is assigned to a specific stage to perform an exclusive task in the service process, the employee masters the skills required in the stage and thus repeats the same for long hours making it monotonous and boring; the stages include taking orders, handing clients cups of brewed coffee, or using the cash registers (Raine, para.1). With the experience the coffee servers become specialized thus faster speeds of transactions which reduce the contact period with the customer to repeat this task day in day out.
These employees in my opinion are subjected to a very boring lifestyle which is inhumane in view of the fact that the employees have to keep on repeating not only the tasks but appealing statement to the clients under the watch of the management. As Raine, para.4 states “The one aspect of service work that can be unpredictable— people — becomes redundant and interaction with customers is reduced to a fatiguing eight hour long smile and the repetition of sentiments that allude to good service, such as injunctions to enjoy their purchases or to have a nice day”. They are also required to use approaching styles to make the customer buy more than what they came for by addressing customers in enticing ways, this amount to exploitation since they are forced to market while at the same time provide services while they are paid poorly.
The hospitality industry has advertised itself on the basis of good service which in my opinion has revolutionized the industry but the welfare of the employee remains the greatest issue of contention when the employer exploits then so as to achieve their objectives. This is the question Emily poses at the beginning “why should I be Nice to you?” In answering this question one would definitely know that the hospitality industry only plays politics which is a rough game to the employees. Huge companies such as Starbucks and McDonald have continued to exploit this aspect for their financial gains at the expense of the employees; and as the author ironically puts it that smiles are not just painted while others smiles are free in these companies.
Raine, para.6 states that “Our notions of good service revolve around a series of platitudes about professionalism—we’re at your service, with a smile, where the customer’s always right—each bragging the centrality of the customer to everything “we” do”. This to an ordinary mind would seem right but in a critical perspective it brings the shortcomings of the industry. The equal exchange between the employee and customer has the third side controlling the service delivery and has the final judgment on what the final meaning of what good service entails; this confirms that they just play politics with it to appease the customer.
The employees sometimes never cheer and smile voluntarily for the whole day, but the company management selling friendliness monitors and compel the workers to do so; and some must also continue to beg customers for more purchases through friendly means. The worst part of it is that the management sells this as the brand image at the expense of the employee. This agrees with Emily’s statements which hold the management accountable for the misfortunes of the employees. I do not disputes that good services should be offered and it is an added advantage to a business but compelling workers to it and dictating the terms of good services makes it ugly and unattractive.
Assurances from Starbucks management as stated by Raine, para.10 “not only about the good service its customers will receive, but about the great joy that its “partners” take in providing it, given the company’s unique ability to “provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity,” and where its partners are “emotionally and intellectually committed to Starbucks success” clearly explain the politics played by such companies.
Selling a product or service based on workers happiness regardless of whether the workers are satisfied or not is not a perfect strategy, it exploits the rights of the workers making them a means to an end. However the employer has always had the workers under control in view of the fact that they are threatened with being fired whenever they show their true colors to the customer. The are just puppets to accomplish the employees wishes to maximum profits yet get meager pay, minimal benefits and a career that makes them robbed off their rights.
In my opinion this is unfair and unjust since the companies also dictates most of their lives at the work place including; the length of hair, personal hygiene and perfume products, personal grooming (piercings and tattoos) and color and maintenance (Raine, para.14). They are treated as robots to be controlled and used in any aspect of their lives; and this taints the image of this sector especially where they are controlled as young children. It actually confirms Raine’s fears that it is not all about good services and being nice it is a game to get rich while controlling others to be nice. They make they public see them as mere workers who are given orders that they must adhere to with class and smiling always where the public regards as servants rather than their peers.
Being original is all that the hospitality industry needs to instill, where serving without being a servant is a more justified way that will ensure workers show their real emotions thus interact with the customers perfectly and thus add value. This companies need to style up and eliminate slavery in an industry that holds all what a society needs i.e. “best service”. This will make the workers feel valued and worth and thus translate to efficient service that is not half heartedly offered. In my own opinion Emily Raine is justified in writing the article "Why Should I be Nice to you? Coffee Shops and the Politics of Good Service” which is a must read for those who love justice and hate politics that are aimed at exploitation.