By Jon Swanson
We were out for dinner with eighty of our closest friends. The server spilled on Nancy’s coat, the cream sauce from the stuffed mushrooms. She immediately got her manager. James came over. Apologized clearly and specifically. He told us to get it cleaned, laughed with others at our table who asked for a free meal for all of us.
An hour later as we were walking out, he remembered Nancy’s name after hearing it once. He repeated the “get it cleaned” request.
The restaurant is on the other side of town and though we got the coat cleaned immediately, it was three weeks before I got back. I walked into the restaurant before they started serving. There was a hostess at the desk who asked if she could help. James wasn’t there, she said, but Ken was. She called him over.
His response was immediate. He took the receipt. He looked right at me. His only question? “Did it come clean?” He went to the till, rounded up to the nearest dollar. He even touched my arm as he said goodbye.
There are a couple significant lessons:
1. The training in service permeated the restaurant. All four people I talked with–server, two managers, and hostess–were about making us welcome with banter and care. The touch on the arm was trained, I know, but he did it. The eye contact from both managers, the ability to remember Nancy’s name, the unquestioning payment all make a seamless experience.
2. The response was measured. They didn’t give free meals. They didn’t make a scene. They paid for the cleaning. If it hadn’t worked, they would have replaced the coat, I am sure. But the offer matched the error. Would I have liked a free meal? Sure. But it’s a business. The gracious responses made the payment adequate.
It doesn’t need to cost a lot to provide this kind of service and problem recovery. Not in money, anyway. It just takes consistent caring people.
Jon Swanson is your customer, presenting every day perspectives in a new way. Jon also writes at Levite Chronicles.
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Great post John. You are exactly right. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to be of great value to the customer. Unfortunately, many times this would be met with a hassle. The other manager wouldn’t have taken care of it or would have made a big deal of it.
Great story. Thank you.
Paul W. Swansen says
Well if we’re ever in the area, I’m sure this will be on our list of places to eat.
Jeremy – thanks. I agree about the hassle. That’s why this was so striking.
Paul – if you are in the area, the meal will be on us. Okay, not the way this meal was….
Great post. Can you tell the name of the restaurant? I’d love to reference this in a post on my blog about online reputation management for restaurants (blog.boorah.com) – it’s a great example of generating positive online word of mouth – that results in more customers through the door.
Eric, the restaurant is biaggi’s in fort wayne, indiana. It’s part of a small (21 restaurants) chain.
Phil Gerbyshak says
Awesome reminder Jon! Customer service is really all about the little things that makes such a difference. As you said, “It just takes consistent caring people.” Good to hear at least one more restaurant has people who care about people.