Random thoughts

It’s a sad, sad situation

Last week my friends and I had a not terribly good lunch in a fairly trendy restaurant right here in Toronto. My guest found her food (specifically the ham that accompanied her $30 (tax included) ham and eggs brunch entrée) to be inedible, and said so to the waitperson. The waitperson assured us he would transmit the message to “them” (presumably the manager or the chef). When he returned with the chef, he mentioned, when asked, that they had been surprised that the ham was so bad because they used the best local suppliers. That’s it – no other comment, no apology, no make-good and no manager’s solicitous attention.

Fortunately I am an experienced hospitality and knew exactly what to do to get the manager’s attention: I tweeted!


No surprise, within an hour I received a response from the manager


I called the following day and this gentleman was out, but had left a message that if I called they should give me his email and I could email him. Which I did. Without belaboring the point, the manager responded to my email with a well worded, obviously thought through apology and a $100 gift certificate.

How sad is it that in this era of Social Media the only way to get the attention of management is by tweeting. Think about it – we were in the restaurant, probably 25ft away from a (or the) manager, but we were unable to get their attention. One tweet, bounced off twitter servers thousands of miles away, gets immediate attention. This is clearly wrong (not to mention expensive – had the restaurant responded while we were in the place, they would at the most have had to discount the meal by the $30. The twitter fetish cost the organization, in this case, $70 and a whole bunch of credibility.

But, this is not a unique case. I knew exactly what would happen if I resorted to twitter. I have heard people tell me that it is easier and quicker to get clean towels in their hotel room by tweeting than by calling housekeeping; and I know of numerous occasions in which people tweet dissatisfaction with hotel rooms and receive compensation (in the form of loyalty points) within minutes.

Those of us in the business of engineering memorable customer experiences have a duty to change this sad situation. The reality is that negative tweets do not really impact business (for the most part, unless they are substantial comments such as: the place has rats that eat off the kitchen tables before the food comes out!). However, guests leaving with a bad taste in their mouths will definitely not return and probably tell their real-world friends not to go there either.

After all, a real-world bird in the hand is better than a flock of twitters!

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