Lost me forever | You need a Service Recovery Plan
I was thrilled when my wife Gina suggested that we go out for dinner one evening after a particularly busy day at work that left me feeling too tired to cook. I immediately envisioned wine, sinfully carbohydrate-rich pasta, crab, fresh bread and salad, followed by zero dishes to do afterward.
We chose a restaurant that we’d been to many times in the past. They always had great service, delicious food, and there was never a very long wait. As usual, we were seated right away.
My favorite brand of red wine arrived in no time, along with Gina’s beer.
“Would you like to order, or do you need a few minutes?” the waiter asked.
We ordered salads and our entrees from the friendly 20-something waiter.
He wandered off and we sat back to relax and chat about how our days had been. Actually we debated about who’d had the worst day. It was our way of deciding who would pick up the check at the end.
As it turned out, my wife’s broken heel paled in comparison to me walking into work that morning to discover the washroom above my office had been leaking all night.
Just as I finished the last few drops of wine in my glass the waiter returned with our salads. I stuck my fork into the romaine lettuce and took a bite. Delicious, as usual, I thought.
But a few bites later I realized the crunch I had thought was a particularly well-done piece of bacon was actually a piece of broken glass. I pulled the glass from my mouth, and immediately noticed the blood on my finger.
Gina gasped, “What happened?”
“It’s glass. There’s glass in my salad!” I quickly began searching through the rest of the salad for more. I found several more, ranging from sea-salt sized shards to some the size of bacon bits.
I signalled for the waiter to come over, and quickly told him what the fuss was about.
“What are you going to do about this?” I asked the waiter.
He excused himself, looking rather horrified himself. When he returned a few minutes later he gave us the solution. “We won’t charge you for the salad.”
“Excuse me?” I asked. “I just ate glass. And you aren’t going to charge me for it?”
“That’s all we can do. We don’t know if you put in there to avoid paying for your dinner.”
A discussion with the manager brought the same result – a ridiculously insulting suggestion that we had put the glass in there. We paid for the wine and beer and left.
When we got home I logged onto the franchise company’s website to send a complaint to the head office. Not surprisingly there was no way to contact them via email or telephone. All that appeared was an address for mail.
As the soreness in my throat, from the few pieces of glass I swallowed, disappeared so did my anger. But I have never returned.
The restaurant could have easily offered to pay the entire check, and for any medical bills for the damage to my throat (if there had been permanent damage), but they insulted us instead. Concern instead of accusations would have gone a long way to making me feel like I mattered as a customer.
Instead they lost a customer for life, which could have easily been avoided had they had a service recovery system in place. A “what-to-do-if-this-happens” type of checklist. When I was at Disney we had a service recovery system in place at all times. Had this happened at Disney the least we would have done is paid for the meal as well as encouraged her to have our paramedics look over her. Our guests’ safety out-trumps any other service goal we have.
What systems do you have in place to ensure service recovery is as smooth as your other services? Do you have a “what-to-do-when” type of checklist? If not, you need to get with your team and devise your service recovery plan.
For more on Disney Style Service and small business marketing, check out my free special report “Systematic MAGIC, How to Disnify Any Business”. Vance Morris is a Walt Disney World Resort Management Alumni, having spent 10 years as an executive in the Resorts. He runs the only Disney Service & Direct Response Marketing business on the planet. Here he coaches companies to create Disney Style Service Systems and then monetize them through direct response marketing. He is also the GKIC 2015 Marketer of the Year. He can be reached at www.DeliverServiceNow.comor email@example.com .