Saturday, August 18, 2007

Customer Service

Disclaimer - This article in no way is aimed at throwing opinions about a particular race of humans. It is solely based on my experiences and my version of the events.

I always thought i did not like Italian food. But during our endeavours to get amma-appa to sample different cuisines I found that I did like the Salad , breadsticks and Eggplant Parmiggiano - a bit too much - and even started to have a craving for it.

So, I dragged the 3 of them to Olive Gardens yesterday evening to satisfy my palate, when this incident happened.

We had often heard of excellent customer service in most American restaurants - we got our chance to experience one yesterday.

We had ordered , amongst other things , a veggie pizza. This was the last item that the waitress was due to get. When she first brought it, I saw some wierd moulds of things on it and got a slight suspicion and asked her - She apologized and took it back and came back immediately. Kneeling down in front of our table, she apologized profusely that the cook had made a mistake of giving us an "Italian Sausage" pizza and that they would take the pizza off our bill and give us a free pizza. After ensuring that it would not affect her own salary, we said Yes.

About 10 minutes later, she came back with another pizza and a big smile "Hope this one looks as good as what you wanted". It looked fine. When the Mr. started to cut slices, we realized they had made a mistake again - this was as a Pepperoni pizza ... Guess it just was not our day. She was appalled at this and took it back. She came back and after apologizing profusely asked us to choose some desserts which they would give us for free. We were already so full and did not really want anymore, but still we took a "Tiramasu".

Seconds later, the manager came back - took up a chair and sat in front of us. "I am so ashamed of what has happened. It is not as if we run a French restaurant, we must know how to make a good pizza atleast. Please give us another chance to serve you better. The next time you come around, just call me personally - my name is Betty - I will make the pizza myself for you. I am going to take the whole bill on our name, however since Michigan laws prevent us from taking off the Wine charges, you will have to bear them".

We were so impressed by the honesty with which she spoke. She took the entire blame on herself and made amendments for a loss which we actually did not incur. No doubt , we were not entirely satisfied with the whole episode - but the way the waitress and the manager behaved did not leave any black mark about that restaurant in our mind. We knew that any other time we would not hesitate to be back there again.

This incident brought back to mind a couple of others that had happened few months ago.

The first one was at an Indian Grocery store. This one served Samosas and Chats to be eaten there itself. We ordered two samosas and instead of taking it home decided to eat it there. They had not given us any sauce with the samosa. Since they had chutneys prepared for the chat, we asked if we could get some. The owner rudely said that they don't give free chutney for Samosas. The Mr. said he would pay for the chutney. The owner got annoyed and said - There is so much hard work that goes into preparing those chutneys, we cannot spare them for giving it away with samosas just like that. We tried to explain to him that we were willing to pay - but he just would not listen. It put us off so much that we decided never to go there, even if we were lured by the good chats that he made.

The second one was at an Indian Restaurant. We had ordered Masala Dosa - the dosa he gave contained huge chunks of potatoes that were only half boiled. We did not complain during the meal - put aside the potatoes and ate the dosa (Enna pannaradhu thalai ezhuthu ... kya kare apna kismat kharaab tha). But when the waiter came to take away all the plates, the Mr. could not hold himself and just casually mentioned the same to the waiter. Immediately the waiter turned defensive and said - Masala dosas are supposed to be made that way only. ( The other statement he did not say, but was evident on his face was - if you did not know this , then you morons should not have ordered it). We were not complaining or making a fuss, neither where we looking at getting our money back. All we were doing is making a suggestion to him - why could he not have taken it a bit more graciously? All he had to say was - Oh! is that so ? Sorry sir, we will take care of it next time - he does not loose anything right? After all he runs a restaurant to serve us customers only - he does not do any charity to me?

A Customer will be willing to pay the money, if he feels it is justified and worth it. No person would want to cheat and get free food or service. All he expects is to be treated good and be given his money's worth. Why is that so difficult to understand? Why is it so difficult to give a smile to your customer and apologize if something went wrong? Don't we do that ? If you made a mistake in your work - don't you say sorry to your boss or co-worker?


carthik said...

You should seriously consider posting the names and addresses of the bad stores and restaurants. Let's make it bad for the bad guys :)

I once asked for a fork, since all I got was two knives at an Indian restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, returned with 10 forks and laid them down on the table with a clang. Before this happened, I had been served a chicken/mutton kothuparatha after ordering the veggie equivalent.

Needless to say, whenever someone asks me where to eat Indian in Atlanta, I usually start off saying, "Don't eat in Bollywood Masala..."

JoltStrikesSlowly said...

I've been to Olive Garden with my wife,and believe me,It was amazing!The food,the ambience and the way they serve you sets standards I'd never seen before in life.Besides,it is'nt frightfully expensive.Maybe you *should* do something about those places you were'nt entirely(putting it mildly) satisfied with.You're living in the land where the consumer is worshipped..

Gomathi Sarma said...

I am afraid to say it is the attitude that plays here. May be the Indian resturants that visited are too business oriented and they know they can get 100 other indian families if not you. They knew that one Indian family cannot bring them down. Where as in Olive Gardens, just as business matters, customer satisfaction matters. They are really worried about their reputation..