Customer service in the Czech Republic doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s doing it wrong.
(For an analysis of why Czechs have gained a reputation for service-with-a-frown, see this long-read from our archives.)
Though we like to think it’s getting better, learning to adapt, especially if you’re a newbie, is important.
Here’s how to get better customer in Prague and the Czech Republic:
The golden rule of customer service in Prague is that your experience improves in almost any situation if you can show that you’ve put some work into learning the local language.
Make a Reservation
Yes, even for lunch, afternoon coffee, and definitely for dinner on the weekends. You’ll usually get better treatment if you don’t turn up unannounced.
Know the Routine
Within seconds of sitting down in many restaurants or cafes, you’ll be asked for a drink order. Any main dish is likely to be offered a choice of sides. Expect the questions and have your answers ready, even if it’s just that you’ll need some time to decide (and again, bonus points for learning to say it correctly in Czech).
Become a Regular
Just as the Czech character is known for being slow to warm but worth the wait, frequent visits are often rewarded with a knowing half-smile that says you’re welcome and remembered.
Adjust Your Expectations
This is not a land where the customer is king. Many Prague residents don’t mind, saying that their ideal service standards falls somewhere between fake smiles and small talk and a scowl-and-grunt response. Just a pleasant, efficient, genuine interaction is all most people want.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Of course, there will still be times when you encounter things like this. These days when formal channels fail, taking your customer queries and complaints to TripAdvisor and on-line forums, or contacting a company via Facebook can have a tremendous impact on the situation.
We recently conducted an informal poll, rounding up opinions on places that consistently break the stereotype and exceed customer expectations. These were the most frequently mentioned businesses that continue to provide notable customer service:
Among the vast landscape of Prague coffee shops, two standouts for service include Misto, the Doubleshot-offshoot in Dejvice, and the appropriately named Žižkavárna in Žižkov. Regulars appreciate both places’ willingness to engage in your language of choice (whether Czech or English), knowledge of all things coffee, and genuinely friendly staff.
The Ambiente Restaurant Group
Service in some restaurants depends on which server you draw that day, but these kings of the local restaurant scene consistently scored high marks for service, particularly at Eska, Café Savoy, Lokal, and Naše maso.
New Kids on the Block
The excitement of opening after months of planning and hard work can often translate to enthusiastic staff. Two less-than-a-year-old additions to the local food scene are generating positive buzz.
At the tiny Arepas de Lyna on Korruni Streeet, the namesake owner fills the room with personality and Venezuelan cuisine.
Across town docked on the Vltava River, Loď Pivovar’s brewery-on-a-boat serving beer flights and quality cuisine with cheeky grins.
The Živnostenský Offices in Prague 3 & 4
The world of visa paperwork is notoriously convoluted and intimidating, with one commonly mentioned exception: The ladies guiding foreigners through the business license process were regularly praised for helpful advice and a willingness to work patiently with less-than-proficient Czech speakers.
This local ride-sharing app has gained a reputation for getting customer service right online. Quick response times to disputes and e-mail feedback give these guys an edge over Uber for many locals.