Tonight thousands of Valentine’s Day meals will be ruined. Precious minutes will be spent waiting for the wine list or the bill. A restaurant filled with couples flapping their arms like stabbed inflatables desperate for service has become part of the tradition. But worry no more. GetWaiter! could save your relationship.
GetWaiter! is a free smartphone and iPhone app that calls the waiter for you. Essentially if the restaurant has signed up you ask for the waiter’s attention via your phone and the café or restaurant’s service hub. The getWaiter! app is designed with the service provider in mind as much as the customer.
Its creators Paul Tombs and Dominic McGuinness speak confidently of restaurants enhancing their customer experience. “GetWaiter! helps restaurateurs to better manage busy environments by ensuring the attention of waiting staff can always be easily gained by diners, increasing efficiency and improving customer service no end,” says Tombs.
But how effective a 21st-century version of a bell on your table is going to be is yet to be seen. The app is available now but only a few outlets are experimenting. On this McGuinness says, “Initial trails have also provided some really exciting insights for restaurants about how they’re performing and how their customers engage. From highlighting the increased use of getWaiter! in areas further away from a waiter station, to the positive correlation between decreased waiting times and increased positive feedback, the detail behind certain customer behaviour will prove invaluable. All in all, we’re seeing a positive trend in driving an increase in restaurant performance.” So far so press release.
As customers though it’s the waiters and waitresses we talk to not the restaurant owners. GetWaiter! could be seen as a worrisome development by waiting staff. They would argue that they work hard enough already and in fact the reason you haven’t been given your bill yet is because of the number of other customers and not because they’re smoking in the back and spitting in your gazpacho. A customer who has the app could expect better service than one without and waiters love nothing more than an entitled customer. But it’s easy to become paranoid when your eatery of choice is deathly quiet and you still have to wait an age for your bill, in which case getWaiter! would simply become something else to instil fury. However, if the app catches on it would change our entire approach to waiting service just as the Hailo app has to calling a taxi. GetWaiter! is available now but not everyone has caught on. You’ll just have to wait.
Graeme Swanson is a writer and journalist.