Customer Service – How Sydney Compares…

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed a vast difference between the customer service in Sydney and elsewhere in the world? Recently, I was fortunate enough to unbuckle the chains that attach me to the Sprint chair and head off on a well-deserved (if I say so myself!) holiday to Europe. 7 countries in 4 weeks – a mixture of sun, amazing cities, new cultures and my favourite……NEW PEOPLE!

For anyone who already knows me, I’m an avid travel. One of my favourite things to do is to jump on a plane and experience a new and exciting place. I love the different food, the languages and learning more about the people from other countries and cultures. I essentially love to live and interact with others (probably why I love recruitment so much).

It’s also a great time to calm the mind. Some of my best and most innovate ideas – that form the very essence of Sprint – have been devised in exotic locations. Yes, okay I admit it, I usually do have a vino by my side, and am madly scribbling on a hotel notebook with those miniature pens they all seem to be so fond of.

However, I digress. I have been inspired by this trip to write about how Sydney compares to the rest of the world in terms of customer service. On this trip one of the biggest things I noted was the incredible variation between the levels of customer service (within the hospitality industry) in the seven countries I visited versus Sydney…and at the core of it, it made me very sad.

To put it bluntly, are Sydney people that self-absorbed or do they just not care about customer service?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Sydney but I have to be honest and say Sydney could take a leaf out of a lot of other countries books when it comes to genuinely caring about their customers (noting that my experience was obviously predominately with the hospitality industry).

In other countries being a waiter is deemed a ‘profession’, however more often than not it appears that in Sydney it’s often just “something I’m doing whilst I look for a better job”, or to cover expenses whilst studying.

We travelled for 30 days, which means we had approximately 90 meals away from home. We ate at a very broad mix of places, high-end restaurants, local cafes, hotels etc. We also stayed at a broad mix of hotels. Every single interaction we had with a person who was in a customer facing role was an absolute pleasure. We were listened to, we were important, we felt valued – we laughed, and we enjoyed the experience (immensely!)

Immediately upon arriving back in Sydney, that quality customer service disappeared. We no longer felt listened to, were no longer important and definitely did not feel like a valued customer.
Why is that? Is Sydney just too much of a rat race? Is it that everyone is just too busy (and stressed) to be caring about others? Is it that overseas they’re incentivized to treat the customer well (eg low base pay, working for the tips), or is the economy in such a poor state that they are working hard to hold onto their jobs (e.g. less prospects). I guess the other option is because lots of people are on holidays and it has a more positive/fun/vibrant feel hence they find it easy to get involved as well?

I don’t know the answers but what I do know is that I noted the difference immediately upon my return to Sydney. I felt it when I stood in the queue for a coffee only to have someone else push ahead of me (then pretend she didn’t do it). I felt it when the guy who served me looked like he was half asleep and he certainly didn’t want to be doing what he was doing. Don’t even get me started on the guy in duty free at the airport! There were no smiles. It was a simple transaction of taking the money, writing the order on the lid – next.

We regularly place candidates in roles that demand exceptional customer service, mostly in professional services but in other industries as well. I have no doubt that they are exceeding in these positions. I have just been left miffed about where the customer service in hospitality has gone and want to know how can we get the Sydney standards back up to the rest of the world? Or perhaps quality customer service, in any industry is now a rare commodity and I being harsh on the hospitality industry?

If you have the answers – please let me know. I would love to hear what you think.

All that said, if you would like to chat more about customer service and what to expect from your staff and how to attract quality talent in this area, contact me on You know what I expect and I wouldn’t put a candidate forward with anything less than that!

Naomi Marshall – Director
P: (02) 9271 0011
M: 0422 139 910