Creating a good experience for your customer

I recently had an experience I want to share with you.  It could have turned out badly, but I want to share with you the way the problem was handled.

The week before Christmas I was visiting my daughter in California and we decided to have lunch in one of her favorite restaurants.  It is called, “the Grill on the Alley” and is located in Westlake Village, California. 

My daughter ordered a salad, and my wife and I ordered a chicken pot pie.  When they brought it over, my wife noticed a white string in the dough on the top of the meal.  I called the waitress over, told her about the string, and explained to her that this often happens if the chef uses the same towel to cover the meal while they are baking the top part.  (Of course, I got this information from my wife.)  They then brought over another freshly cooked chicken pot pie. 

It could have ended there but it didn’t.  The manager, Quin Anderson, came over to our table and apologized about the mishap and offered us complimentary deserts, which we declined.

When they brought the bill over to me, they had only charged us for one Chicken Pot Pie. This was the surprising part, since they had already brought us a new pie. 

As you know, “stuff” happens, no matter how good your intentions, how well you train, or how well you prepare.  So train your staff how to handle problems when they occur.

Obviously this restaurant had done so.  The waitress got the manager and he immediately tried to set things right.  When we turned down the dessert, he wanted to make sure that somehow we were “compensated” for the inconvenience.  So he went a step further and removed the charge for the meal. 

He was determined that we walk away with a good experience of his restaurant.

There is a good lesson here…no matter what the customer says when things go wrong, make sure that they leave you with an experience that makes them want to come back.  Don’t listen to the words that “everything is ok”.  Instead, create a good experience around what happened. The good experience is what will create a lifelong cutomer and grow your business through word of mouth.

If you are ever in Westlake Village, I recommend you visit the restaurant (www.thegrill.com ).   They also have a wonderful dinner menu. 

So, what is one of the memorable experiences you have had where you recommended a business because of how they handled a problem? Tell us in the comment section below.


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21 Responses to “Creating a good experience for your customer”

  1. roy maduro says:

    Great story, Service like this should not be exceptional, but the rule,
    Roy

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @roy maduro,

    True Roy!

    Ken

    [Reply]

  2. Jim Fox says:

    Ken,
    What a great story! There is a culture at work in this example. It is a shared culture where the core values are set by the leadership and that leadership reinforces it by setting examples. I will give you a BIG example of this sort of behaviour when it comes to customers and relationships from both sides in the same industry.

    Years ago I was a suprvisor at UPS. When it came to the customer there is a whole culture around “taking care of the packages.” On Christmas eve when drivers returned with packages that were gifts gifts and couldn’t be delivered we would hand them out amongst supervisors, managers, AND drivers who lived in the towns and deliver them on the way home or on Christmas Day if need be. It was a good feeling for us to be able to deliver on someone else’s promise of giving a gift, and our promise to deliver on it.

    On the other side was a dispatcher at Roadway Express who had a dropped trailer at a company where the trailer weight capacity was exceeded at quarter close. The customer called for an additional trailer. The dispatcher refused (this was a big revenue account) because the call was made “after the cut-off time”. The customer then called a competitor (Yellow Freight) where the manager jumped to service the customer, dispatching two trailers immediately and took the office crew with himself to off-load the Roadway trailer onto his. He won the account.

    To the customer no amount of money in discounts was worth taking a hit by poor service. And, the willlingness to do what it takes to fix something for or help a customer adds untold value to the relationship over time.

    People respond to positive experience and as you point out by your recommendation you never know when the package you hand deliver is to the wife and/or president of, a potential customer or will relate the positive experience to a potential customer.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Jim Fox,

    Hi Jim, great examples. Thanks for sharing.

    Ken

    [Reply]

  3. Conrod Shuffler says:

    Happy you shared that experience Ken.
    Most times the obvious is not so obvious after all, unless shared like this one.
    Every customer must leave with a GREAT experience is my way forward.
    Thanks
    Conrod.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Conrod Shuffler,

    Hi Conrod, glad you enjoyed reading about the experience.

    Ken

    [Reply]

  4. Great information, Ken. It’s funny…but, if all business owners simply considered how “they” like to feel when they are the customer, it would be a natural response to handle “mishaps” in their own businesses in the same manner as this restaurant did.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Debra

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Debra Costanzo,

    Hi Debra, well said!

    Ken

    [Reply]

  5. Mitch Pisik says:

    There have been several studies that show that most customers will consider an experience with a vendor/restaurant/hotel, etc. more favorably if there was a problem which was quickly and appropriately resolved – then if there had not been any problem at all. For example, if you had had an uneventful meal, it is unlikely you would have mentioned the restaurant in your piece.
    Great work.
    Respectfully,
    Mitch Pisik
    President and CEO
    Breckwell Products

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Mitch Pisik,

    Hi Mitch, you are right. If nothing had gone wrong, I wouldn’t be writing about the restaurant. This shows that mistakes can be an opportunity to shine. We shouldn’t set out to make mistakes, but when we do, we should embrace them as opportunities to delight our customers.

    Ken

    [Reply]

  6. Dave Keene says:

    Thanks for sharing this Ken. Business people and businesses in general need to be reminded that you are only as good as your last job or the last service you provided. Sometimes an issue or a problem is as clear as the story you related, and sometimes not. In any case, what’s important is to make an effort to remedy the problem and demonstrate to the customer that their experience and/or the value of their business is of the utmost importance. Proof’s in the pudding!

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Dave Keene,

    Hi Dave,you hit the nail on the head!

    Ken

    [Reply]

  7. Bhudeb Das says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. An excellent example very well brought forth to highlight the importance of quality of service.

    The uniqueness of your writings is your simple language and honest expressions.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Bhudeb Das,

    Hi Bhudeb, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the compliments.

    Ken

    [Reply]

  8. Thanks Ken for sharing your experience. Customer experience/customer service is so very important and if handled correctly – leads to customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Julie Weishaar,

    Hi Julie, agreed!

    Ken

    [Reply]

  9. May says:

    Good story. It is unfortunate that this experience is not more of a typical customer service exchange but a highlight. It may be viewed as a “good” experience due to the amount of “bad” customer service that is now more of the norm than the exception. I am sure if you asked for a bad customer service experience, there would be no shortage of stories!

    I had visited a new restaurant that had a number of things go wrong – seated in a section without a server, problem food, etc. but the manager seemed genuinely apologetic and comp’ed the meal. He even offered a discount voucher for our next visit. We did not intend to return so we gently declined the voucher. He seemed to recognize our intentions and took the time to explain that our evening did not meet the restaurant’s standards and each issue would be addressed. He requested “a second chance” to show us how the restaurant is supposed to operate. We decided that any restaurant with a focus on customer service to address a bad experience should be given another chance. We did not even notice the generous discount amount until we returned to the restaurant. And, we did not regret our decision to return.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @May,

    Hi May, this is a good story. Kudos to the manager for tuning in to you (your experience) and asking for a second chance.

    Ken

    [Reply]

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    [Reply]

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