A Bad Experience

By Jay Shifley

I had a bad experience at a restaurant this week, so I am going to complain about it.  I apologize for the negativity ahead of time, but there are some lessons in my experience that I think are worth noting.  In order to put the lessons in context, I have to share my experience.

It was not a cheap restaurant—and I’m not a rich guy--so when I spend money at a restaurant I would like most things to go right.  Pretty much everything went wrong, though.

It took too long for our orders to be taken.

We ordered a 4 course “special.” The first three courses came all at once (salad, soup, entrée) and there was no room on the table for it all.  We had to say no to the salad because it wouldn’t fit on the table.

My soup came much later than everyone else’s, and it wasn’t hot enough. By that time, though, I thought it would be another half hour before I got a fresh bowl so I let it go.

When I asked for a drink refill, the waitress put her hand out as though I was attacking her and said “I’ll get to that soon, sir” in a tone that said I was being overly demanding. She didn’t come back for about ten minutes.

The waitress rarely made eye contact with us, was very slow, and seemed to have a lot of trouble moving.

By this time I needed to make a conscious effort to enjoy myself.  The manager, to her credit, noticed the problem of all our food coming at once and she gave us salads to go.  I appreciated that, but it was not enough to bring me back to this restaurant.

So here is what I took away from this experience.

When you are in the service industry, you must be on your game at all times.  I had not been to this particular restaurant for about 4 years, and now I am not inclined to ever return.

While the manager’s effort to compensate us with salad was appreciated, it was only adequate. When things go wrong, customer service protocols dictate that you go over and above to make things right.  

This was a famous restaurant chain, and I am sure they have systems in place to make sure that most people have a good experience. However, even the most efficient systems can break down, and they are only as good as the people implementing them.  Never put your trust in a system, because it’s your employees who make or break an experience.

I hope you can take these lessons and apply them in some form to your business.

Originally written: May 10, 2017


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Update: I ended up complaining on the corporate website, and I got a call that same day from the manager, who apologized profusely and sent me $50 worth of gift cards. That made things a little better.
Jay Shifley at 3:56pm EDT - May 18, 2017

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