Today's Boston Globe Magazine has a series of articles concerning restaurant service. There is an article listing 29 restaurants with excellent service. There are also a few small essays on restaurant service.
One essay, which does not seem to appear online, is called "It's Bad All Over." It states that poor restaurant service occurs all over, and not just in Boston. It is considered to be the largest problem in the restaurant industry. A couple reasons are stated for this problem. One is that waiters are considered low on the food chain. It is the chefs that get all the publicity and fame. There are few, if any, famous waiters. In Boston specifically, the number of college students waiting tables is thought to be one of the causes of the problem. Most lack experience.
To me, bad restaurant service certainly can ruin a dining experience, even if the food is excellent. And no type of restaurant is immune from bad service. Even the best restaurants can have service issues. Conversely, a restaurant with excellent service will definitely elevate the quality of your dining experience.
A single bad serving experience can make some people never return to a restaurant. So, it is imperative that a restaurant does it best to provide good service. If you have service problems, should you speak to the management? If there are only a couple minor glitches, it is probably not worth speaking up. You can always just adjust the tip accordingly. A few minor issues could arise anywhere and anytime. We can't expect perfection always. But, if there is a significant service issue, then definitely speak up. You are paying for the experience so you should expect good service.
Most restaurants want to hear legitimate criticism so that they can correct the problems. And usually they will do something to remedy the issue. If not, then that is a restaurant you should not return to.
If you receive excellent service, you might also want to speak to the management, to tell them how pleased you were with your server. Good service should be rewarded and acknowledged. I have done this before. Why not encourage excellent service?