(Blogger´s Note: “Readers Write” appears each Monday in this space and we answer the reader’s questions and offer advice on a specific topic. If you would like your questions or comments addressed, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org).
I have been a very good customer to the restaurant (name withheld), eating there about once every week and taking 10 of my friends to the restaurant. I have however, hit a limit today and will probably not frequent the establishment again.
I ordered takeout a month ago- a swordfish sandwich. I got home and realized that:
1. They charged me for the swordfish club instead of the Swordfish Torta, which is about $1.00 more (but they didn´t give me the club, they gave me the regular sandwich), and
2. They forgot my coleslaw, and I really like their coleslaw.
I ordered takeout again a couple of weeks ago and the same story, they forgot the coleslaw that comes with the meal.
I ordered takeout again today and they again, for the third time in a row, forgot the side dish. I promptly called the restaurant, and spoke to an employee. I informed her that this is the third time they forgot the coleslaw. Her response? "Why don´t you just order a side of coleslaw next time? They´re not very expensive." I then politely explained to her that coleslaw is a side dish that already COMES with the meal, and what´s to say that they won´t forget my separate order?
She then said she would tell someone in the kitchen and hung up.
Moral of the story? Be reasonable! Be kind! At least give your customers what they paid for!
Dear Espresso Bean;
Isn´t it uncanny how aggravating the constant reoccurrence of a simple mistake can drive a customer to another restaurant? Who ever would have thought that Cole slaw could be a deal breaker? In reality though, it wasn´t just the Cole slaw that sent you on your way, it was the Swordfish Club, and on top of all this the rudeness of the employee when you called to let them know of their missteps.
Training in customer service, and more importantly, monitoring customer service is one of the most demanding aspects of the individual unit operator. Stretched for time and continually under pressure from dealing with all aspects of the business, frequently customer service suffers, especially on the bottom of the employee food chain.
Although it was considered demeaning at times by the culinary graduates who graced my kitchens, I was a proponent of the plate by picture philosophy. Each of the entrees that I served would be photographed and those pics were put behind the line so a new employee could follow the plating procedure and another set were placed in front of the line so the waitrons knew exactly the way a plate should look.
I would suggest that a simple sign, "Don´t forget the Cole slaw, our customers love it" would suffice to remind the culinary newbies that take out gets Cole slaw. To drive the point the owner may want to take a picture of his Cole slaw chef standing behind a large pile of chopped cabbage with the line that says "Don´t forget the Cole slaw. I need a job."
Often adding a bit of humor to a situation makes a point faster than reprimanding someone who may have had a common sense lapse when on the phone with you. An attitude adjustment conversation might be in order since that employee was the representative of the restaurant. But all that will change by the end of the summer when the temporary summer help has to go back to school and an entire new staff will be hired.
Ah, customer service training-it never ends.
FYI- Espresso Bean got a great call from the owner of the San Diego Fish House and everything was patched up. We would like to know though; did you get a year´s supply of slaw, or what? Please inform.