The other night I had dinner at a favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, a bad customer service experience tainted the evening. The good news is that this event created a learning opportunity.
By the way, you don’t have to be in the restaurant business to appreciate and learn from this story. As I take you through the story and the lessons we can take away from it, think about how they apply to your business.
On that evening I ordered the pasta dish that I’ve been ordering for years. It came out wrong. It had peas in it. Not just a few peas, but loaded with peas. And I hate peas. I picked up the menu and confirmed that I hadn’t misread the description. Nowhere did it say peas. I motioned the server over and told her about the problem. She had a great attitude and was happily going to take care of the situation. But, just about then, the manager who had been observing, stepped in. I had never seen this manager before. He didn’t apologize, and instead told me that they have two chefs and that this one likes to put peas in the pasta dishes. He said that most people find that the peas are a pleasant surprise.
Ah, that explains it. A pleasant surprise – not for me! And I nicely told him so. He just stared at me. I could tell how uncomfortable the server was at this interaction. She wanted to do something, but the manger had taken over, and he was blowing it.
Eventually, the manger asked if I would like to get a different pasta entree. I asked if they could make the same dish without the peas, as was on the menu. He finally took the dish away.
Several lessons come out of this incident:
The restaurant is great, and I’m going back, because I know this is an isolated incident. But, what if this was my first or second time at this restaurant? Given all of the good places there are to eat, would I want to spend my hard-earned money at a restaurant, or with any type of business, that makes mistakes? My friend Tom Baldwin, former CEO of Morton’s Steakhouse says, “Great service is mistakes handled well.” That’s great advice for any business.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or http://www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)
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