What’s Your Customer Service Like?

Recently Sue, my son and I went to #Olive Garden in Lakeland, FL. It was a busy night and we both were anticipating to have to wait which was not a problem, after all we were wanting to eat at the most popular dinner time and hadn’t called ahead.

The hostess came and showed us to our table and told us our waitresses name and we waited. No waitress? I was on the phone talking to a client so I wasn’t really paying attention, but after the call finished and no one had brought water or silverware I began to pay attention. Just as we were about to leave our waitress came and explained it was her first time alone, she was new and sorry she was late and took our order.

Still no water, but our drinks arrived, but then we waited for 30 minutes before the salad arrived. Again more apologies but this time she mentioned that everything was behind and as I looked around at the restaurant it seemed everybody was complaining?

After another 20 minutes Ethan and Sue’s meal arrived and my soup – I ordered the soup and salad as I thought it would be quick”. LOL

Throughout the meal our waitress kept coming up and saying how sorry she was and that her manager would speak with us. This should be interesting I thought. Sure enough a very distraught manager came and explained that some servers were missing and one of their main chefs had been taken sick, everything was behind And she was most sincerely apologetic.

When the bill arrived, the manager had zeroed out all costs for our meal over $45 and came over again and apologized. Even though the meal was free I still tipped our waitress $10 because she was pleasant and had a great attitude to my family. Plus I imagined a lot of people wouldn’t tip her if they got mad at the wait and waitresses only really make money off tips.

So, how do you react to customer service issues? Like the manager and waitress did, we need to deal with customer problems as soon as possible. Do whatever is required to help people overcome the feeling of being let down or even ripped off as soon as possible.

Knowing they had a problem what could Olive Garden have done different. Called to see if one of their other chefs was available? Called to ask more servers to come in and work extra hours?

Maybe they should have told the front desk to restrict the number of people wanting to come in and told them there would be a longer wait time. Could they have closed off a section to dinners? In my local Olive Garden, yes that would have been very easy to do and not very noticeable. This would have then allowed the remaining servers to serve on time and reduce a greater demand on the kitchen. From my experience if people are told the wait time is long they will go elsewhere that night. They will still come back another time. By making lots of people have a nasty taste in their mouth about bad service and then also having to give money back to diners is the worst way to handle customer service.

Kudos to the manager and the waitress in both keeping a pleasant attitude from what must have been a horrendous night.

Steve Brown

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