I like a good moan as much as the next person, but one of my favourite things about Which? Conversation is that it gives us the chance to show examples of companies who get things right.
Yesterday I went for dinner with my family at a really nice restaurant near Waterloo. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the restaurant they’d had an electrical problem, and consequently had to shut. Looking mournful, we turned to leave, at which point the small team that was left at the restaurant sprang into action.
‘Don’t worry, you can still get a meal!’ We wondered how, given that the place was in semi-darkness. ‘My colleague will show you to our other restaurant nearby.’
It turned out that they had another branch just round the corner, which had set up extra tables to make sure they didn’t disappoint diners. One of the waiters accompanied us to the restaurant, and settled us down at a table.
A challenging evening
It seemed a bit odd to be sitting at an extra table that was spilling into the café next door, which had stayed open to deal with the extra customers. Waiters and waitresses ran back and forth between the two buildings, juggling food orders, drinks, and strained-looking smiles.
I was impressed with their can-do attitude, and it made us all feel well looked after. The restaurant hadn’t turned us away, but instead had done all it could to accommodate us, which was especially welcome given that it was a special birthday meal!
Unfortunately, while we were busy praising the resourcefulness of staff, not all of our fellow diners were quite so pleased. There were mutterings and complaints from nearby tables, as people weren’t quite getting their food or drinks quickly enough. This would be understandable, I think, in a restaurant running a normal service, but I thought it was a bit unfair to make such loud and (on one notable occasion) rude complaints when it was clear that the staff were doing their best in the face of an unexpected problem.
Although our food was quite late, the service was by no means bad given the circumstances. We resolved to wait patiently and avoided kicking up a stink. We were rewarded at the end with a delicious meal and a free dessert ‘for our patience’. Over the moon about free dessert (who wouldn’t be?) we thanked the waiter and congratulated him on being able to juggle so many extra customers. At the end of the meal he gave us a box of Turkish delight and thanked us again.
The difference between good and great
What’s the moral of this story? Great customer service can work wonders, and you don’t always have to complain before they provide it. If a company (in this case a restaurant) knows that service might be a bit slow – thanking diners for their patience and giving them free dessert can mean that they be more likely to come back (as I certainly will!).
Great customer service in response to a complaint is one thing, but how about going out of your way to help even if the customer isn’t making a fuss? Do you think that makes the difference between a good company and a great company?
If you’ve been to a fantastic restaurant recently, why not nominate it for The Good Food Guide’s restaurant of the year award? Everyone who submits a nomination will be entered into a free prize draw for a meal for two at the regional winning restaurant most local to the winner.