You may have experienced what my family and I did, related to one of those “dah” moments when we visited the Applebee’s restaurant in Maitland, Florida this weekend. We were celebrating my mother’s 96th birthday and she wanted to go there for their ribs. We ordered a spinach and avocado appetizer and found a hair in it. Our server stated, “Wow, that’s not good. It’s a good thing you found it before eating any of it.” She quickly replaced the dish and things were going okay until we got our entrees. I ordered a baked potato and instead received mashed potatoes. When I pointed out the error, the order delivery person stated, “Oh, I saw that sitting there in the kitchen. I’ll go get it” ( I love these team approaches to service where no one person assumes total responsibility for service and instead it is shared by half the staff!). Shortly thereafter, Steve (the manager) came by asking how things were going. When I said, that thus far things were a bit challenging in getting what we wanted and that I was disappointed because we were celebrating my mom’s birthday. When I shared with him about the hair and baked potato, he commented, “I heard about the hair, but they remade the appetizer, didn’t they? And, I see you got your baked potato. Please let me know if there is anything else that we need to correct.” He then left. Notice that nowhere in his comments did the words, “I am sorry” or “I apologize” come out of his mouth. No wonder that neither the server nor the food delivery person used those words either. Obviously, service recovery training is not something organizations want to waste time or money on these days.
Unfortunately, I see such scenarios often with service providers in different industries and organizations. What happened to basic service 101 where staff and management are trained to take ownership for service breakdowns, apologize, go out of their ways to resolve the issue and ensure that the customer is satisfied and/or compensated for their inconvenience before the service experience is over. Obviously, return business must not be an issue to many of these purported service professionals. I guess many of them have not suffered the ill effects of the current economy and do not worry about that issue.
There was one positive aspect of our dining experience. After I had received the check and paid for the meal, Steve came back with a $5.00 coupon and stated, I was going to buy your mother a dessert for her birthday but since you already paid, you can use this on a future business. Of course, he is making an assumption that such an opportunity will occur in the future.
I’d be curious to hear if about similar service breakdowns and how they were handled.