Believe it or not – saying ‘thank you’ in every 2 seconds with the fakest possible smile and giving away plastic bags for free isn’t the best service industry policy.
The service industry in Slovenia is light years ahead of the UK’s. Slovenia is independent only since 1991 but has developed an amazing ‘treating people’ know-how. They got it right – customers are human. Not cash machines out of flesh.
I tried to get a shot of the many waiters, bus drivers or shop assistants who were incredibly polite. But you know what happens when you shoot in direct sunlight…
Three short stories:
- Shuttle bus driver
He not only spoke fluent English and handled our luggage as if he was placing a newborn in the car but also introduced us sincerely to Ljubljana:
‘You might be bored from the press in Ljubljana. Here it’s really safe. It’s not like in London, where you open the newspaper and see who killed a number of people and then next page who else he killed and so on. Here we only have domestic murders… you know… something like husband kills wife, wife kills husband.’
We were lost so he called our hosts from his private mobile phone to double-check the location and walked us to there.
The shuttle bus driver model:
smile engage show extra care give business card
2. Apartment hosts
Day 1: Although not mentioned in the description, our hostess brought us breakfast coming from the other part of the town. Just for the sake of being nice. That simple.
Day 2: We got a call from her. She was super anxious about our stay because there was some repair work on floor 4. We were on floor 1. She offered us to move to their hotel in the very centre of Ljubljana to get a proper rest.
Day 3: The toilet got blocked for exactly 10 minutes. We thought we would let her know. She offered us to move to their place. They were ‘going to stay at friends’’for the next 2 nights.
I doubt Slovenians have as thick books on crisis management as Brits do. I’ve been living in the UK for 5 years: got mice in the house – nobody came for 10 days, got a leaking radiator – no attention for a week, got a crappy shower – nobody changed it. That simple. Why face a problem, when we can ignore it?
3. Waiter in Gostilna pri planincu
Scene: Customers waiting for their order to be taken. The waiter tries to take it in Slovenian, German, Spanish and English. Then he figures out they are French and apologetically says: ‘We don’t get many French people here. Refer 10 more customers to the restaurant and I will start learning it.’ Then it turned out they all spoke Italian and so did the Waiter.
All of these occupations are perceived as vocations. ‘Hvala’ (thank you) was not a mechanical response.
Service industry in Slovenia is an art. An art which emptied my pockets and gave me plenty of food for thought.