The power of the customer is growing and the businesses that can’t provide top quality service are being easily and quickly exposed.
We visited the new Browns restaurant in Newcastle on Saturday afternoon and I’m sad to say that my first impression wasn’t great.
We arrived just after 12 and requested a table for two. We were asked if we had a reservation (which we didn’t) and when we asked if we needed one we were told that we were “lucky” that they could fit us in.
Oh dear… not a great start. Surely the restaurant is “lucky” that we chose to frequent it? So much for a warm welcome – Strike 1.
We were then shown to a small table in the middle of the restaurant and found ourselves awkwardly perched on the corner seat of an oval lounge chair – not very practical or comfortable. Now I’m struggling to be generous, but perhaps this doesn’t warrant a strike as they are obviously going to fill up with all the people who have made reservations.
Our waiter was called Joe and he was very welcoming and friendly – perhaps we could forgive the initial first impressions?
I ordered a cup of fresh mint tea while we looked at the menus. Yes, you guessed, they got this simple drink order wrong, I got a tea bag – and I’m not even sure if it was mint. Again Joe was lovely and arranged for the tea to be replaced. Perhaps the food would be great to make up for everything – I’m still trying not to give them a second strike.
We ordered our food and it came quite quickly. They did provide the dressing on the side of my salad as I asked for and the quality was o.k. My husband ordered soup and – oh no – it was only lukewarm. I’m sorry I have to – it’s Strike 2.
Unlike me he decided not to make a fuss. I on the other hand felt that it was important to give them some feedback. Again, to give Joe credit, he accepted and thanked me for the feedback, which he promised to pass on to the chef.
Maybe we would come here again after all?
Then came our main course. The food was cold again! Hadn’t I just told Joe about this and wasn’t the kitchen advised of this feedback so that they could improve?
This time I couldn’t be bothered to complain and I really didn’t want to give them a third strike. Maybe they are really busy and if we come back another time (making a reservation of course) we might have a more positive experience?
Although we should have only paid what we felt the food was worth, we just wanted to get out of there and get on with our day.
However, we did wait ages for the bill to arrive so we had to stay longer than we planned.
While we waited, I look around and noticed that the restaurant was getting fuller and the maître de (who had told us we were lucky to be allowed into the restaurant in the first place) was showing a young couple and their baby to a table. I was shocked to see her rolling her eyes and looking exasperated as she lead the couple through the restaurant.
That’s it – Strike 3!
We categorically will not be going back to this restaurant and the first thing we did was tell our friends about it as we chatted at a party later that night. Now I’m blogging about it.
The Power of the Customer
So remember – you have to be focused on delivering an exceptional level of service to your customers, in every interaction. You cannot afford to be slack, because as soon as you are two things happen: one, your customers move, because there are so many options and two, your shortcomings become widely publicised.
In this complex, fast moving, environment, competitive advantage belongs to those who provide a world-class service for every customer, every time.
Please get in touch if you have any comments about the issues raised here.