Don’t clam up when it all starts going wrong

badcustomerservice

Friday night at the end of a grind of a week. I was planning a gin accident, followed by a bottle of something red, and a big lump of something in the steak line, colour ditto.

If I seem unnecessarily fixated on my stomach, it’s because I was hungry when I got to our local pub, and even hungrier over an hour later.

If you want a great way to upset regular customers, this is it:

First, offer a new product. In this case, waitress service – as opposed to the old way, where you find your own niche, then go to the bar to order food and drink.

Then, purge your waiting staff of anyone with more than a few days’ experience. Not a few days in that particular establishment, oh no. A few days, period.

And then introduce an entirely new kitchen brigade. Who don’t know where stuff is kept and don’t know who’s ordered what.

To carry through the metaphor, it’s a recipe for disaster.

So it’s getting late, I’m beyond hungry and our waitress – who apologetically took our order after 20 minutes – has disappeared.

NOBODY IS TELLING ME WHAT’S HAPPENING. THIS IS MAKING ME CROSS. AND WITH EVERY PASSING MINUTE WITHOUT FOOD, DRINK OR INFORMATION, I’M GETTING CROSSER.

I’d rather hear bad news and plan accordingly, than hear nothing at all. But there we were in limbo-land, not knowing if we’d ever be fed and watered.

In the end, after much arm-waving and a personal trip to the kitchen to investigate the delay, we got our dinner. We also had the reassurance of the harassed duty manager that we would not be getting a bill.

Afterwards, it took my wife to point out how insignificant this one spoiled evening was in the greater scheme of things. And how, in fact, we eventually ate rather well and didn’t have to pay. And how the pub crew knew they’d screwed up. So could I please stop huffing and puffing?

I could, but not before pointing out that keeping me informed would have kept me on-side. A lesson for all of us who are tempted to clam up when it all starts going wrong.

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Rod Hirsch is Global Director Brand and Content at Thunderhead. Joining the Thunderhead team in 2010, Rod has spearheaded the development of the Thunderhead voice, building the company’s brand strategy and content and bringing alive its vision and expertise in multi-channel customer engagement. With over 30 years in the business of building brands for B2B clients, Rod has combined strategic thinking and tactical implementation to deliver award-winning programmes for starts-ups and multinationals alike.