Boy, How Quickly the News of Bad Service Travels…BondBeebe
Posting by Joel C. Susco, CPA, Principal
Remember the old adage about those having bad service experience tell ten people, and those having a good service experience maybe tell only one person? Well into today’s digital age, just think of all the people you could gripe to if you had a bad experience – all with the click of a button. This is even more reason for today’s businesses to make sure their customer service is at the top of their game.
This very issue came to light just recently when a friend of mine had an unusual experience at a nationally-known steak restaurant, a business that was originally a family-owned business that prided itself on excellent customer service. My friend was celebrating her 50th birthday and her family wanted to make it extra special by treating her to a wonderful dining event.
My friend expressed that they should have known something was lacking as they arrived at the front door to use the valet services, since the weather was cold and wet. However, as they arrived, no valet attendant rushed to their door to assist with their car; in fact they couldn’t even find one and had to pursue the manager inside the restaurant. No apology was given, but that minor inconvenience was not going to ruin their celebration.
After checking their coats, they all sat down, toasted the birthday girl with some wine, shared some mouth-watering appetizers, each enjoyed filet that was cooked to perfection, and of course, topped off the evening with some birthday desserts. As the night was coming to a close, and they felt the need to get up early the next morning, the group made their way to retrieve their coats and head on home. Had they known that their lovely dining experience was about to come to a grinding halt, they would have turned around, headed back to the table and indulged in more birthday celebrations.
As the group arrived at the coat check door, they presented the attendant their ticket and she promptly retrieved the coats assigned to that number. My friend’s sister quickly realized that she was given the wrong coat. “Ah, this is not my coat,” she said. “Yes, it is,” replied the attendant. I think we all know our own coats, especially if it doesn’t fit. But unfortunately, the attendant did not see it that way. The attendant kept insisting that the coat given was indeed her coat. They knew they were getting nowhere with the attendant and they felt surely the manager will make it right. They just spent a significant amount of money for a great meal and as this was a fancy restaurant, thus they were certain that this mix-up would get straightened out quickly. The manager was called and unfortunately his lack of professionalism and the insincere behavior he expressed made them wonder how he ever ascended to his position in such a well-known establishment.
My friend’s jaw nearly dropped upon hearing no accommodation would be made to her sister and it was up to them to pursue finding her coat. “Good Luck,” said the manager, “but the restaurant is unable to do anything.” No name or number was ever taken and they were instructed to call back tomorrow and talk with the manager on duty and hope that someone would return the coat by then.
Realizing that they were getting nowhere with the manager, they decided to leave and call back tomorrow in the hopes that the manager on duty would be more professional and help them out. Believing that the night could not possibly become any more bizarre, they proceeded to the valet to retrieve their car. You guessed it, apparently their car went missing for a short period of time. Luckily for the restaurant it was quickly found, but as it arrived to the door the trunk was wide open. Why was that? Was something missing? Frustrated with the previous encounter, they decided to ignore the event as they felt their inquiry would anger them more.
The next day arrived and, as instructed, my friend called the restaurant to inquire if anyone had returned the coat. Surprisingly, no one had. The manager on duty did not present them any type of accommodation or accept any blame. One would have hoped that an exchange might go something like, “Oh, I’m sorry this happened! As a goodwill gesture, come back and have dinner on us.” Any type of a kind gesture from a well-established restaurant would have cost them very little and would speak volumes in customer relations.
My friends have already sent an email to the corporate offices to express their concerns on how they were treated. With today’s media availability, you would think the organization would feel some type of action should be immediately taken to correct the situation. Businesses simply can’t deliver this type of customer service in the digital age. Back in the day, if someone had a bad experience they may not have had an outlet to share said experience, but right then and there, my friends could have left a FourSquare tip, provided a review on Yelp, told folks on Twitter, etc.
Not only is this a poor form of customer service, the business is costing themselves potential sales. Had the manager taken the matter in his own hands, expressed an apology for the mix-up and and provided some type of accommodation, this matter could have been quickly extinguished. Bad customer service doesn’t just create a negative experience for the consumer; it also puts the business in line for nearly immediate negative feedback in the digital world.
Oh, by the way, they heard back from corporate informing them that they will look into the matter and get back to them within three days. It is now Day Five and they have heard nothing. But the establishment in question may be reading about themselves in the near future…