Two Different Experiences: Same Company
Today I wrote my first review on Yelp. It was not a positive one. Reading the previous Yelp reviews for Hot Taco I should have decided then not to try it and chose another restaurant. But through word of mouth from a close friend, I thought I would give it a try.
To make a long frustrating story short, the service was horrible and after an hour of waiting, my friend and I left without eating. Still hungry we decided to walk next door to the American Pub. Thirty minutes later, we had drinks, dinner, and the manager stopped by our table to ask if we were enjoying the food and if he could get us anything. I thanked him and told him about our experience at Hot Taco. I was stunned to find out that the same company, the Bottle Cap Group, owns both restaurants. How can two restaurants owned by the same company deliver two entirely different experiences? One word – management.
Management Loses Sight of the Customer
In today’s world of social sharing businesses need to be more aware of its customer. I was so frustrated with the lack of customer service at Hot Taco that the first thought that came to mind was whom could I tell. Walking by customers waiting in line to be seated was tempting. Instead, I decided to wait until the next morning.
American Pub went above and beyond my expectations. Clearly, they saw the frustration our experience at Hot Taco had on our night out and made sure we were taken care of and that we had a good experience at their establishment. Hot Taco dropped the ball and lost a customer. Should I give them another chance? Possibly, but I won’t. A business no matter how small or how large has one chance to get it right. First impressions can make or break a business.
Flimsy Excuses for Poor Management
After submitting my Yelp review I emailed the Manager of Hot Taco. She quickly responded and offered her apology. In her email, she explained that she was out-of-town for a wedding and was not at the restaurant the night of our visit.To me, this sounded like she was making excuses for not making sure her restaurant was properly staffed. If managed properly, Hot Taco should not have to rely on the manager being at the restaurant in order for it to provide an excellent customer experience.
Most businesses have a trained Assistant Manager or Manager On Duty to handle service situations similar to what my friend and I experienced. Some suggestions she included was having the Management team “touch each table” during their shift. It should not have an angry customer and several negative reviews on Yelp to have a Manager decide the right thing to do.
Since Social Media is my business I quickly wrote a Tweet to the Bottle Cap Group who owns both Hot Taco and the American Pub and described the two different levels of service I received while visiting their establishments. To their credit, I received a response in less than ten minutes apologizing and asking what they needed to do to make the situation right and to get me to come back and give them another try. I was impressed by how quickly they answered my Tweet.
In Business, Things Can Go Wrong Very Quickly.
Managers cannot predict every bad service scenario. But, when the ball is dropped and a customer suffers it is the manager’s responsibility to make sure the customer is taken care of.
For example, the second week in July 2015 the hotel I managed was sold out. Two Family Reunions, a Youth Baseball Team, and Dog Show filled all 93 rooms. Each morning I was greeted by an anxious Guest Service Representative. Before I could unlock my office door I was handed a pile of written complaints with guest mobile numbers written on them and requests for me to contact them.
Talking to those guests, I fully understood their concerns. I did not do my job, I let the customer and my staff down. I did not pay attention to the customer’s needs. The Front Desk was not properly staffed, there was not enough food for breakfast to feed everyone, and I did not check with the Executive Housekeeper to make sure we had extra Housekeepers scheduled.
Two days after the groups checked out TripAdvisor was filled with negative reviews about my property and its staff. It did not stop there, my voicemail was full of messages from unsatisfied guests demanding a full refund. I was so embarrassed by how my guests were treated that I called each person who left me a voicemail and a negative review on TripAdvisor. They were still upset with the service they received but were satisfied that management took the time to personally contact each and every customer. Did I lose customers that weekend? Of course. That is on me.
When Is it too late?
Today’s customer is used to instant gratification. Bad service equals compensation. That is the way it should be. People work too hard for their money. Social Media has given the general public a voice. Good or bad, Businesses need to be aware and react in a timely manner. Hot Taco immediately answered my Tweet. If they waited days, weeks, or months later and responded all respect for the company would have been lost.
In my opinion, it is never too late to provide a customer a good experience. Through the 18+ years managing limited service hotels I dropped the ball more time than I can count. But, realizing I failed my customer I took action to reach out to that customer and admit I did not do my job. Does that always solve the customer’s issue? It does not.
Managers are not perfect. Businesses are far from being perfect. Things can go wrong. Sometimes very wrong. What we as managers, owners, or line level employees do to solve that problem is what sets us apart from companies that seem to have lost sight of their customers.