Last week, we went to a chain restaurant (a name you’d all recognize), that we frequent about twice a month, for a quick mid-week dinner out. It took a few minutes for our party of three to be seated; there was no one at the host’s stand and the restaurant was maybe 2/3 full. Once seated, it took several more moments for a server to greet us. Once our order was taken, we easily waited more than 25 minutes; our server never returned to inform of us the delay or to refill our drinks.
Finally, I stood up and tried to get some answers. Since I couldn’t find our server, I asked another server to send the manager over to our table. The manager apologized profusely and said there were problems in the kitchen. At this point, our server reappeared and refilled our glasses. When our food finally came out, two of the three orders were incorrect; one of those was mine. The manager was most apologetic. When he passed by a few minutes later, I told him about the order mishap. He took one back and replaced it with the proper item but I was so hungry at this point and frustrated with the whole situation that I just told him I’d keep what I had. He came over again and I told him how we frequent this restaurant at least twice a month and that we’ve never had a challenge like this. He said he would take care of everything. Pointedly, I asked him what he was going to do to win back our business. He “comped” the entire meal and offered us desserts as well.
Although our dining experience wasn’t ideal and attempts were made to correct the mistakes, this manager had a few choices:
- To ignore us and throw his arms up in the air.
- To apologize and walk away.
- To apologize and offer free drinks or free dessert to us.
- To apologize and insist that our dinner would be on the house.
- To apologize and insist that not only our dinner but also that we could order dessert on the house.
The manager chose the last option. We finished our meal and walked out of there feeling a little bit better. When people go out to eat are they doing so for the food or the service? Which is more important? In the end, we might stay away for a little while but we know that we’ll return to this restaurant to give it another chance, remembering that this was a fluke and had never happened there before. This manager not only met our expectations but exceeded them. Hopefully this negative experience will be but a blip on the radar, never to happen again. With a competitor opening in my area, even closer to home, I will have options for where to take my dining dollars and this manager just ensured that I’d be back again to his restaurant to spend some more.
Are you meeting your customers’ expectations – external or internal customers? Are you exceeding them?
"It is always easier for one man
to solve another man’s problem.”
– Chinese Proverb