The steak house with no service sizzle

Have you ever been to a “nice” restaurant where the service was horrible?

Real World Story: A client and I were recently at an upscale steak restaurant in a small US town to give a presentation to a small doctor’s office. The presentation was to start at 5:30 pm. We arrived 45 minutes early to check and ensure our equipment worked with the restaurant’s projector. We also wanted to be ready to greet early guests. When we arrived, we found the restaurant doors locked. Hmph, not a great first impression. My client called and spoke with a woman who offered no apology and nonchalantly said she would meet us at the front door—which she did.

We found three people standing behind the front counter. Hadn’t they seen us standing outside? Couldn’t they have inquired about why we were there so early? One woman finally asked, “Will you need a projector?” My client paused before speaking, looked at me and then back at her.  She asked, “Isn’t it on the contract?” The woman replied yes then walked us to the meeting room where we found a screen and a small projector on a table in the corner of the room. Why wasn’t it in the middle of the room in front of the screen? My client and I dragged out the table and projector while the woman stood and watched in silence—offering no assistance.

We then realized the projector’s adapter wasn’t compatible with my computer. When we explained this to the employee, she mumbled something about extra cords in the projector bag. None of those worked either. My client then decided to drive down to Best Buy to buy the appropriate adapter. Meanwhile, the employee asked me, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” She hadn’t helped us with anything. Was she kidding? She just wanted permission to leave. A few minutes later, a man enters the room carrying a drink—for himself. Without stopping, he introduces himself as the manager and continues walking. I jumped up and asked, “Wait—you’re the manager? Do you happen to have an adapter cord for my laptop?” He replied, “Oh, we have lots of those in the back. Let me go check.” He returned moments later with the correct adapter saying, “We have seven of these in the back.” He laughed and walked away.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Be proactive. If your establishment offers event space for rent, ALWAYS arrive early to greet YOUR clients with kindness and to ensure all rental specs meet your clients’ needs.
  2. Follow through. If your client ordered audio-visual equipment, then ensure you have the correct cords and adapters ready on event day. Help the client set up YOUR equipment and solve problems as they arise.
  3. Keep your entire team informed. If you have seven adapters, for example, let all staff members know—especially the ones assigned to assisting YOUR clients. Communication, communication, communication.

Remember: It DOESN’T take much to create sizzle with your customer service experiences. What it DOES take is a little thought, preparation, presence, and a lot of kindness.

What do YOU do to create an extraordinary customer experience at your company? Please share your stories.