Recently, I visited a restaurant in Southern California that's part of a national chain. While the restaurant has linen napkins, it doesn't have table cloths. So it's somewhere between a McDonald's and a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel.
After my friend and I were seated, the waitress walked by our table a few times without acknowledging us. When she finally stopped at the table, I asked what the soup of the day was. Unfortunately, my question served as a distraction and stopped her from being able to deliver her standard script, "Hello, I'm (her name), and I will be your server. Can I offer you something to drink while you look at the menu?"
I ordered a cappuccino, but she said that she thought the espresso machine was not working. This seemed odd, especially since it was a sunny Sunday in Southern California, which meant that everyone was outside enjoying the sunshine. How could there not be a repair person working on the restaurant's espresso machine?
The waitress said she would check on the espresso machine and let me know. I had to stop the waitress twice as she walked by my table to inquire about the machine. No surprise, it was not working. As the customer, though, I should not have had to ask for this information. The right thing to do in this instance was to apologize on behalf of the restaurant for a non-functioning espresso machine and then offer something comparable to drink. Perhaps, she could have said, "We've got these delicious fruit smoothies, we'll provide one on the house if you'd like to try one." But the server didn't think outside the box at all.
And this was not the end of my poor customer experience. The food was delivered, but I had asked for butter and jelly to accompany my English muffin when I ordered - not a crazy request. No butter and jelly arrived with my scrambled eggs. I asked the person who delivered the food. A minute passed. Then another, and another, and finally my eggs were gone. The English muffin remained and was now cold. Since no one ever returned to the table, I walked over to the food prep area and requested butter and jelly. When the waitress finally returned to the table, she said, "I have other tables you know."
While everyone has a bad day now and then, when you work with people - and depend on people for your business in the hospitality industry - you cannot afford to treat customers rudely. It will come as no surprise that I spoke to the manager following this experience. He agreed that the level of service was sub-par, and he paid for my meal and my friend's meal. But, as many of us in the customer experience marketing sector say on a regular basis, I would be much happier to pay for a meal that accompanies quality service than receive a free meal as a result of an awful experience. How about you? And as you can imagine, this restaurant has lost a customer.
Welcome to Debbie Laskey's commentary about BRANDING, MARKETING, LEADERSHIP, SOCIAL MEDIA, EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT, and CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES. Debbie has worked in high-tech, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, nonprofits, and insurance. Expertise includes strategic planning, brand development, marketing plans and audits, competitive positioning, websites, corporate communications, public relations, employee engagement, customer experiences, and social media marketing.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Poor Customer Service Can Seriously Damage a Brand's Reputation
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