How Great Customer Service Saved a Poor Customer Experience

A short story for a post today.

My wife and I recently went for a meal at a restaurant we have been to many times over the years. We have never had a bad meal or experience with them.

That all changed with this meal.

I am going to lay out the things that happened that were bad – but then explain why we will still be going there again and again!

The Bad

First, my wifes’ meal was overcooked, so we sent it back. Not all that unusual an action. However, before they got on with the job of actually cooking a new meal, they sent a manager over to just check we wanted a new meal. That took 5 or 10 minutes. It was then another 15 minutes until the meal was brought to us – all the while my meal was getting cold.

As annoying as this was, it was forgivable – we had never had a bad experience here before.

However, about 5 mouthfuls before the end of her meal, my wife discovered a fly in her food. That is never nice, but this one held an even grimmer reality – it had been fried into the food.

The Good

From the start of the meal, our waitress was delightful. Helpful, polite and attentive.

When the meal was initially sent back, she didn’t make a fuss, just apologised and promised to sort it out for us.

When it came to dealing with the fly, she continued to provide excellent customer service. She was noticeably horrified and immediately went to find her manager.

When he came over, he asked what had happened, and when he saw the fried fly, he too was visibly horrified. After apologising profusely, he asked us to give him a few minutes whilst he spoke to the kitchen and tried to figure out what to do next. He offered us drinks and dessert if we liked whilst he was doing that. We politely declined, our appetites slightly diminished at this stage.

When he came back, he again asked if there was anything he could us and informed us that our meal and drinks were on them and again apologised.

Now, for us, that was all we could ask. There was no feeling that we were being a pain, and we were given our meal and sincere apologies.

But, he was not done yet. He came back over as we were packing up to tell us that he had just spoken to general manager, who had popped in to get something, and he would like to come over and speak to us in a moment, as well as offering us drinks one more time. After a minute or two, the general manager came over, apologising once again on behalf of the restaurant. He then gave us a voucher for two main meals if we decided to come back again.

The Outcome and Lesson

Now, some of you may be saying that all of this was the very least that they could do. Possibly. Our expectation was that my wifes’ meal, which had been the one affected, would be free. That everything was free and more was offered, was a bonus. The extra apology of two free mains if we came back was the icing on the cake. Again, some may be saying “report them to environmental health”. The thing is, this was the hottest day of the year and sadly flies are buggers for being where yo9u don’t want. It was a freak accident.

We will, of course, come back. Not specifically because of the offer either. It is because of how they handled the situation.

They immediately accepted responsibility, apologised and sought ways to make it up to us. Simple as that.

Far too often, when you as a customer complain, you are made to feel like you are being a pain in the ass!

The lesson here is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself (the golden rule if you will). Don’t make them feel they are in the wrong and try to fob them off. Be accountable, and bend over backwards to make things right if you want to keep them as a customer!

So, a terrible meal made forgivable by excellent customer service!

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Also published on Medium.

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