Make It Memorable
This week’s post comes to us from a Guest Blogger – Jeremy Whitlock. He is a long time reader of Customer Service Voodoo and we welcome him with his first Guest Posting.
As I read the posting “Jedi Knights of Lawn and Garden” this morning, I said to myself Wow, it wasn’t just me. I can relate to this blog entree as I too experienced shockingly less-than poor customer service this weekend.
Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of hot wings! As of late I have seen a baby-boom of hot wings cropping up on the menus in the normal casual restaurants restaurant as well as hot wing specific restaurants that appear to be popping up all around the Sacramento Area, such as Wing Stop. Over the weekend my brother told me of a new wing restaurant that recently opened in the Elk Grove area outside of Sacramento named Wings and Rings. Just the name alone had my girlfriend and I salivating which caused an uncontrollable craving for some hot wings.
We drove to this new restaurant and as we pulled into the parking lot we were taken away at the well designed building with a plethora of neon-lighting, plasma televisions, and Hot Wing ads glowing through the glass windows. Upon entering our eyes grew big at the wonderful tables with pub-like touch screen gaming stations on each table and comfy booths with enough space for even the largest wing-lover’s belly to squeeze in and breathe after taking in many baskets of chicken. Towards the back of the restaurant there was a high-tech section for young kids to play that included video games and other table-top games.
As we stood at the front door looking at the “Please wait to be seated” sign, our stomachs rumbled from the terrific smell floating in the air. We waited about 2 minutes until a manager noticed us standing at the greeter’s booth in which we were escorted to our seats. We were handed two menus and left to decide our dinner. The menu looked fantastic with a wide variety of wings, boneless wings, chicken strips, burgers, soups and salads, even Gyros! As I mentioned above, I am all about the wings, and if you know me as well as anyone close to me does, I’m going for the hottest sauce provided!!
The menu allows you to choose from several styles of chicken from Original, Teriyaki, Roasted Garlic, Lemon Pepper, Cajun, and even Garlic Parmesan. From your choice you then choose how spicy you want your wings to be from Mild, Medium, Hot, Extra hot, and finally my choice, ATOMIC! After about 5 minutes I decided to go with the Cajun Wings with Atomic sauce. My girlfriend went with her favorite, the garlic Parmesan wings. In addition we thought we would try one of the awesome starters, The Hot Garlic Sloppy Fries. As we waited to meet our waiter or waitress, we looked around the room at the groups of folks enjoying their food. Across from us was a group of four young teens with baskets of wings and cold beers. What really caught my eye was the enormous bowl of Ranch sauce I have ever laid my eyes upon. This must have been about a half a cup of Ranch sauce and the teens were slamming down their wings into the bowl-o-ranch!
As we watched the two or three waitresses work each table, we couldn’t wait to meet and share our enthusiasm with our waitress as my girlfriend and I enjoy conversation and learning from the people we encounter. As we watched other waitresses greet their customers as “Hello, welcome to Wings and Rings, how are you this evening?” “Have you been here before?” “No, well thank you for coming in; let me tell you a bit about us….”
This is where our excitement did a 180 and turned bad! Our waitress came out of nowhere, quickly laid her arms down on the table as if she was exhausted and said “so, what do wanna’ get”. Could you believe it? My girlfriend and I were stunned and looked at each other in amazement. We had so many questions to ask and to learn about this new restaurant in order to take in the full experience that we now felt rushed, startled, and frantic. We placed our order of 10 wings, half with the garlic Parmesan and the other half with the atomic Cajun sauce. In addition we ordered the sloppy fries, two glasses of water, and two cold beers.
As the waitress left to place the order, we began to discuss this unpleasant experience, but agreed that we would try to make the best of it, however several minutes later the waitress, once again, rushed over to our table and slammed our beers and water down and left. We expected her to place the drinks to the table and to let us know which one belonged to whom. By this time we pretty much knew we would not be coming back for a long time, if that.
About 5 minutes went by before we got the starter bowl of sloppy fries, we pretty much knew that our dish was going to be brought to us in an impolite way. Guess what? We were right on the money. The bowl was slid onto our table in a similar fashion as before. The waitress finally asked if we needed anything at this time. I held my response back and said that we were fine for now.
Good news, the sloppy fries were fantastic. In consisted of curly fries with chili, cheese, garlic, and some type of hot sauce smothered on them. Several minutes later our wings were brought to us. Oh no, what’s this? These are not wings, these are Chicken Tenders! We are not a fan of chicken tenders, but at this point, we did not want to stir up any feathers. I mean our experience was already somewhere between shocking and substandard.
I took a bite into my Atomic Cajun Chicken Tenders and thought, holy cow this is more than atomic, and this is inferno! I am a fanatic for spice and finally met my match. The chicken was a little firm as most tenders are (which is why we prefer wings). The Cajun spice was good, however with my mouth was on fire and my face beginning to sweat; it made it difficult to taste anything at this point.
About this point we are completely out of water and in dire need of some more. We watch as other waitresses are checking on their customers and think, where is waitress?!? We even see that these other waitresses are walking by our table, and look at our empty glasses of water, but keep on strolling by. I don’t know if it’s a rule and Wings and Rings to only help your own tables, but if so, I would have that rule changed ASAP. About 10 more minutes go by and I finally grab another waitress after she views our empty glasses, and request a refill.
After we receive our refills, our waitress stops by with 2 or 3 of her customers bills in her hand. She asks us if we would like to close our tab now as she was clocking out for the day. Prior to this my girlfriend and I discussed paying this waitress the minimum tip for her unsatisfactory service. I asked the waitress what she meant by “close out my tab” as that is usually used in pubs when you are ordering several drinks. In my experience, when a waiter or waitress switches shifts, they thank you for coming and let you know that another person will be taking over your table. In this case the waitress alluded to the fact that the difference was basically the tip in which we would leave would not go to her, but would go to our new waitress. WOW, we were thrown back into our seats! We couldn’t believe that we just went through all of this with our waitress
I asked the waitress to leave our ‘tab’ open as we might order more food. The waitress seemed quite startled and walked away. From this point on we watched her clock out from the front register and she was never seen again. The flip side to this is our new waitress who was to take over, was also never seen. We slowly finished our meals discussed the situation as we waited for somebody to come by and offer to bring our bill, or discuss ordering more food, as that is what we said, however that did not happen.
About 15 minutes later I flagged down a waitress that appeared to be the best one at the time and asked for our bill. Our bill was brought back and the waitress asked how the food was. We talked about how good the fries were and how spicy the atomic sauce was and found out that it was made of a cayenne pepper extract that is held in a safe. This was done for safety reasons as a few weeks back someone accidentally broke a bottle which spilled all over the back of the restaurant and made it so that no one could go back there or their eyes would tear and they would begin to cough constantly.
As we left the restaurant we felt singled-out and abandoned. On the drive home we glanced over the menu and found that we also missed out on the celery and blue cheese that should have come with our order. I couldn’t believe it. We were so drawn-back from our experience that we forgot our favorite, must-have side dish, celery and blue cheese
I have learned that even with a good product, without the memorable experience, your customers will abandon you.
In a recent newsletter from Brad Worthley, he talked about forgetting Customer Service. “The words “customer service” have become diluted and do not have the same impact they did 25 years ago”. “Forget the words “customer service”, and instead focus on what you can do to create a memorable experience with everyone you come in contact with”.
I was left with a memorable experience, unfortunately it was a bad one and I don’t think I will be returning.