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In the last few years, we have ordered salads three times in hotel restaurants which were meant to come with anchovies and didn’t.
We have pointed this out to the waiting staff at the establishments concerned.
In one case, they trotted off and brought us some anchovies with a short apology.
In one case, they came back and said there weren’t any anchovies, apologised for that (but not for failing to tell us in advance so we could order something else if we chose) and took a tiny sum off the bill.
In the third case, they (i.e the restaurant manager, who was summoned) apologised profusely, brought a pot of anchovies, removed the charge for that meal and our bottle of wine and explained that they had spoken to the kitchen staff to stress the importance of making sure that all meals were prepared with all the ingredients listed in the menu unless requested otherwise by the customer. The restaurant manager gave us his business card and volunteered to give us his mobile phone number if we had any more queries.
Now…which one of these was in a hotel in the USA and which two were in the UK?
I didn’t really need to ask, did I?
Now you might regard their response as a bit OTT. I did. But it was a heck of a lot better than the other two and so completely solved the (trivial) issue that there was just no chance that we’ll ever stay anywhere else if we’re in Boston again.*
And the moral?
If you are wrong, you are wrong. Agree you are wrong. Apologise for the mistake and correct it, if you possibly can. Take responsibility and move heaven and earth to send the customer away satisfied.How you manage this may mean you gain a lifelong customer, not lose one.
We all make mistakes. Everyone knows that. It is how you deal with them that is important. learn from them. Change systems, procedures or even personnel to eliminate errors, but when you foul up it is NOT your customer’s fault.
Getting stuff like this right is really important and is a heck of a good investment. It must save money because the best UK chain at this is Premier Inn…and have you seen what Whitbread (their owners) shares have done over the last few years?
But why always the anchovies?
* The meal was at the Hyatt Harborside, which as well as having a very good restaurant indeed, had to die for sunset views across the bay with the skyline of Boston in the background.