I was so excited to be taking a friend to a new neighborhood restaurant that I had discovered. We had a great cocktail, some good appetizers and then the entree arrived – and it was terrible! What to do? Often, as a native Minnesotan, I would have just said nothing and only left a 15% tip but I decided to ask for the manager. Nervously I told him how much I enjoyed the restaurant but the seafood creole dish we had ordered was bad. And, he listened! He didn’t argue or question my taste or understanding of how seafood should taste. He apologized and said he would ask the chef to pull the dish for the night. Then he told us how much he appreciated our business and hoped we would give them another chance. He also comped our meal and gave us a gift certificate.
Despite our best intentions we can’t always provide the customer service we want and our customers expect. How we, and our people, respond determines if we can recover. In my story I have gone back many times to the restaurant and encourage friends to visit when they are in St. Paul. At our colleges and universities how we respond to our students and their families when we don’t meet their expectations will influence how engaged they feel while on campus, how welcomed they feel and how connected to us they feel after they leave.
Forbes posted an article that highlights three key actions that my restaurant manager took and that we need to help our people take when we don’t provide the service our students expect.
- Apologize and Ask for Forgiveness: be clear that you are taking their issue seriously and that you genuinely understand their concerns. Don’t try and explain or defend and don’t feel like you have to agree – just understand.
- Go Over the Complaint with Your Customer: explore and listen. Remember that you may have a lot of information that customers don’t have – and don’t care about. Your goal is to understand their point of view.
- Fix the Problem and Then Follow Up: take action and confirm the next steps happen. Ask what the customer hoped would happen and how you can do something now. People don’t expect miracles; they want to be listened to.
Let me know if you are in St. Paul and want to try a new restaurant. I know a place that cares.