Last Saturday my wife Julie and I visited a well-known stately home and gardens in Cheshire.
We decided to have a cup of tea and a sticky bun at the sticky bunnery on site and waited at the
sign telling us to ‘wait here.’ Eventually a young lady appeared and told us to sit anywhere and
order at the counter when ready.
We’d never been before so asked if there was a menu to choose from. “We’ve stopped doing food” we were told. We enquired if any of the cakes displayed on the counter were still for sale. “Er, yes, I guess so” came the reply.
We found a table and went to the counter and ordered a scone each, one tea and one
coffee. “What table number are you on?” There wasn’t a table number on our table or any
of the others come to that, so we said so. Frustrated, (by our lack of information
presumably) the lady asked where abouts we were sat.
We took our seats and waited, and waited, and waited. It wasn’t busy and there seemed to
be plenty of staff floating around so we didn’t really understand what the delay was but hey
ho. Then, a breakthrough! The scones arrived with clotted cream and jam. The pot of tea
also made an appearance.
There were no knives, or cup for the tea, or coffee, or milk. We politely pointed these things
out. “Yes, they’re on their way” we were assured.
We waited again. The coffee arrived, followed by another 3-4 minute wait before the cup
for the tea arrived. We asked for a knife, we got two forks. My wife wondered if we were in
an Alanis Morissette song.
We then had another wait for the milk. Arrrggghhhh!!!!!!!!!!! We smiled sweetly when
leaving, paid the bill and left a tip. You gotta love the British!
On the way home we called in to an Indian restaurant. The food was superb, and it was mad
busy. I ordered a coffee at the end of the meal but when it came it had far too much cream
in it for me, so I had two sips and left it.
When the head waiter came over with the (requested) bill he stopped just before he got to
the table and went back to the bar before returning again.
“Sorry” he said, “I noticed you hadn’t touched your coffee and I can see why. It’s got far too
much cream in it. I’ve taken it off you bill already”.
So, despite being screamed out of the place, the head waiter had the time and presence of
mind to spot this mistake and remove it from the bill before I had said a word. (I would have
just paid for it to be honest).
We compared the service we’d received in both establishments, even though there was
clearly no comparison. We agreed we’d go back to that Indian restaurant again if we were
ever in the area but avoid that stately home from here on in.
So what? We had a bad experience then a good one, happens all the time in millions of
businesses right around the world, what’s the point?
Here’s a clue; how much do you spend on advertising your business? Adverts, PPC, e-
marketing? How much time do you put in to devising new approaches to the market, new
products to tempt your customers in with? Discount codes, deadlines, special deals and on
and on and on.
Now, consider how much time you spend on getting your customer service right. What are
you doing to make sure that today’s customer doesn’t become tomorrow’s complainer?
Interesting thought, isn’t it?