Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > DiningBuzz
Reload this Page >

Buzzfeed: Ziosk ratings can cost servers hours or even jobs, although not that fair

Buzzfeed: Ziosk ratings can cost servers hours or even jobs, although not that fair

Old Jun 24, 18, 6:38 pm
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Programs: Frontier 50K elite, DL estranged 1MMer, Spirit VIP, CO/NW/UA/AA once gold/plat/comped gold now dust.
Posts: 29,631
Angry Buzzfeed: Ziosk ratings can cost servers hours or even jobs, although not that fair

This article should be a must-read if you go to chain restaurants

Ziosks are designed to increase restaurant efficiency by allowing customers to order drinks, appetizers, and desserts, and pay their bill from the table without talking to a server. But, as Bishop soon discovered, they also prompt customers to take a satisfaction survey at the end of every meal, the results of which are turned into a score that’s used to evaluate the server’s performance.
The scores are taken super-seriously enough to cut down hours or even fire someone, even though the survey isn't very detailed and customers don't know it's being taken so super-seriously that even a four-star rating isn't considered good.

I haven't warmed to using the devices (old enough to be set in ways, I s'pose), but if I had a survey as simplistic as the one they give I'd probably have my usual reluctance to give out five stars to preserve the highest ranking being something special, not knowing it could be used against the server so much with even a four-star. This is ridiculous.

Ziosk tablets sit atop dining tables at more than 4,500 restaurants across the United States — including most Chili’s and Olive Gardens, and many TGI Friday’s and Red Robins. Competitor E La Carte’s PrestoPrime tablets are in more than 1,800 restaurants, including most Applebee’s. Tens of thousands of servers are being evaluated based on a tech-driven, data-oriented customer feedback system many say is both inaccurate and unfair. And few of the customers holding the reins are even aware their responses have any impact on how much servers earn.
It looks like the system is nowhere near being fair. There's the age-old problem of people blaming the server for slow speed or food they didn't like when it could easily be the kitchen's fault.

Also surprising to customers is the fact that survey questions that have seemingly nothing to do with a server’s duties, like how well their food was prepared, are factored into a server’s overall rating. Restaurant brands, not Ziosk itself, set the questions on the device, which means they can vary widely. Some common questions across restaurants include, “How likely would you be to return to this restaurant?” “How would you rate the cleanliness of this restaurant?” and “How likely would you be to recommend this restaurant to a friend?”
I could easily do 4's thinking those are good, and in any case they don't always reflect on the server.

Though it sounds like the worst of the worst are at places where they do some of the T&A bit AND have the Ziosks.

When a woman named Anna worked at a Midwest outpost of Smokey Bones — a chain restaurant that requires women servers to wear low-cut T-shirts, preferably with makeup and longer hair — she often saw “comments on boobs — nice boobs,” she said.

When her managers printed out Ziosk scores and comments each week, they would also highlight the positive comments — including the ones that mentioned servers’ bodies and appearance. “They were considered a positive response to service,” she said.
Maybe my 20-year-old self was capable of a comment like that as a joke but only under the belief it'd just be discarded. I was used to being ignored back then.

The article is long-ish but a real must-read. Like most here, I'm guessing, I don't go to the chains very often but I'm sure the vendors are trying to spread this beyond the chains. If I'm really dissatisfied and think the problem is systemic I might be motivated to post on Trip Advisor or Yelp, thogh my reviews there are either the raves or the train wrecks and most of these chains would be somewhere in between. One of the sources mentioned that the restaurants don't want people posting on those sites and if they can vent in this way then it protects the business, but takes it out on the server that may not even be the problem.

Experiences like Anna’s remind Cornell's Professor Levy of an economic concept known as Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." In other words, pushing people to reach a specific goal tends to corrupt the system, rendering it ineffective.
(emphasis mine)
RustyC is offline  
Old Jun 25, 18, 5:03 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: London & Sonoma CA
Programs: UA 1K(until 2022), MM *G for life, Hertz PC, BAEC Silver
Posts: 8,689
Why would anyone go to a restaurant which had tablets stuck in their faces?

And how is a question like "how likely are you to return" going to determine what the diner thought? It may be they are travelling and extremely unlikely to return to that town.

And, as to self-service, I think the ordering tablets at McDonalds are fantastic. So much faster than waiting to order.
lhrsfo is offline  
Old Jun 25, 18, 7:36 am
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: MCO
Programs: Acapulco - Gold, Panama - Red, Timothy Leary 8 Mile High Club
Posts: 23,852
I’m a little skeptical. Two of my kids run restaurants - no ziosks in them. They watch the servers and evaluate them on observed performance. They would never take a comment on say, a long wait for a table as a criticism of the server. To use irrelevant data is stupidity or laziness. Or looking for an excuse to terminate someone.

There is already high turnover among servers. Both of my sons know who the good ones are and do what they can to retain them, giving them the best shifts and hours. No one gets a raise. That’s what tips are for. No one gets a promotion. There just isn’t much room at the top, although good servers have been known to covet positions as bartenders. Poor servers tend to self-terminate due to missing work more than anything.

It’s hardly universal, but both tell me there is regularly a shortage of waitstaff where they are located. Why would they use some arbitrary irrelevant measure to exacerbate that?

Going back over the story, I smell sour grapes. How do plumbing issues or inaccurate food temperatures only affect “some” servers?

Last edited by BamaVol; Jun 25, 18 at 7:50 am
BamaVol is offline  
Old Jun 25, 18, 10:20 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Denver, CO
Programs: Bonvoy Platinum
Posts: 17,328
While seated and eating, I put it on a nearby shelf out of the way (or under the table on the floor) with the screen turned away until I'm ready to pay. I do like that you can review the bill and call out any discrepancies; plus, I can use Samsung Pay to tap-to-pay, so that is nice.

I only leave positive surveys--particularly when they handle Miss Swede's food allergies well.
pseudoswede is offline  
Old Jun 25, 18, 10:38 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 20
In my misspent youth I worked in restaurants for a long time -- including management. You generally know who the good servers are just by being around them. In addition, with POS systems we had 20 years ago I could pull up average tip / shift or tip / hr. If your not getting tips, your getting fewer hours / worse sections.

That said, I can see corporate chains liking these because they provide metrics other than "trust your manager".

Finally, the 4* being a negative review is common. In many medical systems too many 4* reviews and doctors start losing bonuses. Same with Uber.
sgent is offline  
Old Jun 25, 18, 11:30 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SJC/SFO
Programs: UA 1MM/*A Gold, WN A+ CP, Mar LT Tit, IHG Plat, HH Gold
Posts: 5,798
Originally Posted by sgent View Post
Finally, the 4* being a negative review is common. In many medical systems too many 4* reviews and doctors start losing bonuses. Same with Uber.
A friend of mine who specializes in marketing analytics told me the practice is called top-boxing. Customers are presented a 1-5 scale to rate their satisfaction but the answer is treated as a binary: either 5/5 was selected, or it was not. (With 1-10 scales often the 9 and 10 scores are considered equal as success and 1-8 all indicate failure.) It's misleading to customers because responses like 4/5, which are presented with positive descriptions, count as negative marks against the staff or business.
darthbimmer is offline  
Old Jun 25, 18, 9:39 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: MCO
Programs: Acapulco - Gold, Panama - Red, Timothy Leary 8 Mile High Club
Posts: 23,852
Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
A friend of mine who specializes in marketing analytics told me the practice is called top-boxing. Customers are presented a 1-5 scale to rate their satisfaction but the answer is treated as a binary: either 5/5 was selected, or it was not. (With 1-10 scales often the 9 and 10 scores are considered equal as success and 1-8 all indicate failure.) It's misleading to customers because responses like 4/5, which are presented with positive descriptions, count as negative marks against the staff or business.
The service guys at my local VW dealership are not shy to tell you that only the 10's count and ask when I pick up the keys if there's any reason why I wouldn't respond to survey with all 10's. Personally I think this is stupid because nothing in my life is all 10's.
altabello likes this.
BamaVol is offline  
Old Jun 28, 18, 8:34 pm
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Programs: Frontier 50K elite, DL estranged 1MMer, Spirit VIP, CO/NW/UA/AA once gold/plat/comped gold now dust.
Posts: 29,631
Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
A friend of mine who specializes in marketing analytics told me the practice is called top-boxing. Customers are presented a 1-5 scale to rate their satisfaction but the answer is treated as a binary: either 5/5 was selected, or it was not. (With 1-10 scales often the 9 and 10 scores are considered equal as success and 1-8 all indicate failure.) It's misleading to customers because responses like 4/5, which are presented with positive descriptions, count as negative marks against the staff or business.
Yeah, that really seems crazy. Ebay and Amazon use star ratings but 1-2 stars are negative, 3 is neutral, and 4-5 is positive. Verbatims, when they're given, tend to be far more revelatory and can point up really outstanding cases, but you can't compute an average of those and spit it out as a number.

IIRC Trip Advisor used to discourage 5-stars on restaurants, i.e. if someone gave it a 5-star they'd be prompted with a question that went something like "Was this one of the best meals you've ever had?" I'd consider a hotel that could get 4 stars over 100 or 200 reviews to be likely to be quite good.

They have the Ziosks at a Chili's near here. I tend to move it and turn the screen away but servers might get conditioned to wait to get summoned by it. Am sure it's confusing when some people use the things and Luddites like me want to do it the old way.
RustyC is offline  
Old Jun 28, 18, 8:47 pm
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: HH Diamond, Marriott Platinum, IHG Gold, Hyatt something
Posts: 28,595
I dislike these Ziosks. Just another distraction while trying to have family time. Especially as try try to get you to pay $3-4 for games for the kids to play
Jaimito Cartero is offline  
Old Jun 29, 18, 1:12 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: San Diego, CA
Programs: GE, Marriott Gold
Posts: 14,455
I think Ziosks are fine when installed in the right kinds of restaurants. Unfortunately they tend to be overused (example: does Olive Garden really need them?), so that doesn't help with their perception.

On that note, it'd be nice if servers carried portable terminals around--but Americans in general supposedly hate them (not to mention pretty difficult to justify since PIN is not required for payment in the US).
tmiw is online now  
Old Jun 29, 18, 11:03 am
  #11  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Either at the shooting range or anywhere good beer can be found...
Programs: HH Diamond, Priority Club Platinum
Posts: 43,407
I usually just skip the survey. After I pay, I don't want to answer 20 questions.
kipper is online now  
Old Jun 30, 18, 11:30 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Programs: Frontier 50K elite, DL estranged 1MMer, Spirit VIP, CO/NW/UA/AA once gold/plat/comped gold now dust.
Posts: 29,631
Originally Posted by tmiw View Post
I think Ziosks are fine when installed in the right kinds of restaurants. Unfortunately they tend to be overused (example: does Olive Garden really need them?), so that doesn't help with their perception.

On that note, it'd be nice if servers carried portable terminals around--but Americans in general supposedly hate them (not to mention pretty difficult to justify since PIN is not required for payment in the US).
When I was in Makati in the Philippines I ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company there (touristy chain, but can be an oasis in a place like Manila) and they had something I liked a lot better: A flip license plate rack. Most of the time the blue "Run Forrest Run" one was showing, but you could flip it over to the red "Stop Forrest Stop" one.

I think they do it that way at all locations but it's more valuable in Asia, where they tend to drop off food and then disappear for very long periods (training over there for things like drink refills or any following up is much worse than the U.S.). But having a "Stop Forrest Stop" showing immediately attracted attention.
RustyC is offline  
Old Jun 30, 18, 11:37 pm
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Programs: Frontier 50K elite, DL estranged 1MMer, Spirit VIP, CO/NW/UA/AA once gold/plat/comped gold now dust.
Posts: 29,631
Originally Posted by kipper View Post
I usually just skip the survey. After I pay, I don't want to answer 20 questions.
Surveys with low participation have a natural negative bias. Well before Ziosks or the Internet there was the saying in business that a very happy customer tells 3 people, a merely satisfied one tells no one, and an unhappy customer tells 10 people.

Amazon is currently going through that for their feedback system for third-party sellers, BTW. Participation is extremely low (much lower than eBay), so it's not really a statistically valid measurement in a lot of cases. Yet Amazon is trying to use it that way even for sellers who might do 200 sales and get less than 5 feedbacks a month.

(They also got such bad feedback for their own unit, Amazon Warehouse Buys, that they stopped displaying it, leading to howls of preferential treatment)
RustyC is offline  
Old Jul 1, 18, 6:24 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 20,968
Originally Posted by BamaVol View Post
The service guys at my local VW dealership are not shy to tell you that only the 10's count and ask when I pick up the keys if there's any reason why I wouldn't respond to survey with all 10's. Personally I think this is stupid because nothing in my life is all 10's.
Yep. I don't do surveys for this very reason.
MaxBuck is offline  
Old Jul 1, 18, 8:47 am
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Frisco, TX
Programs: The Airline Run by Doug P
Posts: 20,266
Are these the same systems that are airside at EWR? Or are those completely different systems/functionality?
enviroian is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: