The customer is always right. Right? Well, I have to be honest, after working as a restaurant server during college summers, I don’t know. While the sentiment itself and the desire to satisfy customers are spot-on, sometimes you end up serving those people. You know, the ones you cannot please no matter what. Like the table of four ladies that came in for lunch and left a quarter tip each (I feel compelled to add that they were not elderly nor on a fixed income, one, in fact, worked in my eye doctor’s office and had a son in my class). Or the ones that enjoy cocktail hour a little TOO much and want you to take pictures or play darts with their “buddies.” Uh, no.
So, keeping this in mind, I tend not to complain about my food, send it back (I’ve seen for myself what happens in kitchens when food is sent back) or blame the server when service is slow because they have too many tables and not enough help. However, the one thing that does get under my skin is when I feel the amount or quality (or, in rare cases, both) of the food is unacceptable. In this vein, I have two examples I’d like to share:
- It’s true. We like the Olive Garden. It is convenient, reasonably-priced with good service and decent food. However, one evening I ordered the chicken marsala (which I now make at home as a direct result of this experience) and about halfway through my meal, discovered that the other chicken breast wasn’t cooked all the way through. Naturally, I let our server know and she assured me that they would rectify the situation ASAP.Now, I was expecting them to cook it longer or maybe replace it with a new chicken breast at the most, as I ate almost half of the dish already. What I DIDN’T expect was an ENTIRE new entrée (with two perfectly cooked chicken breasts and so much pasta, mushrooms and sauce that I took home for an easy meal) a free dessert and my meal removed from our bill. It was unexpected, generous and although they took a minor financial loss that night, they also have ensured that we will come back again and again.
Superb customer service=ongoing customer loyalty. Bravo, Olive Garden!
- I recently went to TGIF’s for lunch after perusing Half Price Books, trying to earn enough frequent lunch punches on my card to get a free one. I like a bargain. Anyway, I ordered immediately and began skimming my newest cookbook. To say the service was slow is an understatement. And when my French onion soup finally arrived (sans the lunch size salad I also ordered), it was all giant crouton and cheese with barely enough soup to fill a thimble.
No big deal – I still have a salad coming, right? RIGHT? Well, my salad DID arrive about 20 minutes later, with the wrong chicken on top and no dressing on the side. Another five minutes pass and my correct salad arrives with the dressing already in it (as opposed to my request to have it on the side) and three of the thinnest, most pathetic looking pieces of pecan-crusted sliced chicken breasts I have ever seen.
Side note: I am beginning to realize that I should never order chicken while dining out.
Anyway, I asked my server if the portion (and proportion of lettuce to chicken) was right and lo and behold, it is. Ok, at least my weight will stay in check. And I really have only myself to blame for not knowing the portions ahead of time and then expecting something more.
So, I begin eating. I stop when the manager surprises me by coming over to apologize for my less-than-ideal experience and to let me know he will pick up my tab. No more do I thank him to find my server delivering four extra pecan-crusted chicken breasts slices to my table. Now I’m full. And happy. And satisfied. And guess what? I’ll be back. Well done, TGIF. In here, it’s always Friday, indeed.
Happy customers are loyal customers. And unlike chivalry, good customer service is not dead. It is alive and well…and likely lurking in the dark corners of your friendly neighborhood chain eating establishment.