Monday May 11, 2015

Whose Reputation Is Really At Stake?

When you work in Customer Service, your job is Customer Satisfaction. Whether you're in a call center, at the returns desk in a store, or working in a restaurant, your job is to keep the customer happy and wanting to come back again.

While you're on the clock, you represent the company. You should never be the person directly responsible for a bad review, the loss of a customer... or a blog post such as this one.

We went out for breakfast yesterday. I readily admit this was a bad idea; it was Mothers' Day. But we had a friend visiting from out of town and he wanted Dim Sum.

Unfortunately, the Dim Sum restaurant had opened half an hour early and already had an hour wait when we arrived. So we tried, instead, our favorite diner. We figured there'd be a wait there too but less of one; we also expected it to be less crowded and less noisy over all.

The diner was busy, as expected. But no one was waiting for a table when we came in, although all tables were in use. We even politely allowed two parties (who came in after us) to be seated before us as tables came available, because they were smaller tables (two adults and a kid can squeeze in at a 2-top. Four adults can't.)

There were two servers on duty, 'A' and 'M'. Both work any table. There's no "my section" in this diner.

After we'd waited about half an hour, two tables (one table apart) opened at approximately the same time. We chose one; three women who had come in 20 minutes after we did chose the other.

At that point, I expected:

  • our table to be cleaned
  • set ups brought
  • our drink orders taken
  • our order taken (we'd had plenty of time to decide)


in that order, in a reasonable and timely manner, slightly in advance of or in parallel with the other recently-seated table, barring the need to pick up and deliver meals from the kitchen.

What did happen: all of the above for the other table; none of the above for us.

M greeted the other customers, cleaned their table, brought setups, and took drink orders.
A disappeared into the back of the restaurant.

M brought coffee to the other table.
A reappeared, briefly, to clean our table, and then disappeared again. Still no drink orders or setups for us.

M took the order for the other table; A was nowhere to be seen.
When A finally reappeared (5-10 minutes later) with order pad (but still no drinks or setups) in hand, I complained.

What I expected now – what should have been the next thing A said – was one or more the following:

  • I apologize for the wait
  • I'm sorry I took so long to get to you
  • I'm sorry that table had its order taken first
  • Yes, I know you were here first and I apologize for that
  • The kitchen is stacked up but what would you like to drink

Instead, A started in on some half-incoherent exposition about how I had somehow caused two people and a baby to leave the restaurant by taking their table, ("This table?" "no" "Which table?" "That table" vague pointing); that the women who came in after us had actually been waiting longer than we had; and "mumble mumble something what would you like me to do?"

Here's another tip for people in Customer Service: If you ever utter the words, "What would you like me to do?", be sincere and mean them.

I said that what I would like him to do was to move our order ahead in the kitchen before those of people who came in after us and were seated after us. He responded by asking, again in exactly the same tone, "what would you like me to do?" There was more. None of it was conducive to an improved experience or a good meal.

I got fed up (if unfed) and got up. 
I told the owner (who was there) that I was not going to be argued at by the server and I was leaving. I went home.

We've patronized this restaurant for 20 years. I expect better.

Yesterday, I walked out.

I wonder what excuses A gave the owner later in the day?

Whose Reputation Is Really At Stake? ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Mon, 11 May, 10:24 Pacific | «e»


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