Are you afraid what your customers think?

afraidThis restaurant owner isn’t:

A friend of mine and her husband were recently out for dinner at a high end new restaurant to celebrate an anniversary. Expectations were high as the establishment had received good reviews and friends of theirs reported a great dining experience on their visits.

The meal was a hit, the atmosphere was great, the food was great and the service impeccable. If there was a criticism, it was simply that the venison ordered was a little too rare for their liking. Hardly a real complaint and more of a preference thing than anything, but they were genuinely happy about their night out.

About a week later, they received a telephone call from the owner of the restaurant asking them how their meal was and following up with them to ensure everything was to their satisfaction. They shared how great the evening was and how they would definitely be back. When asked how each course was, she mentioned how she would have preferred the venison to have been a little more well-done but apart from that everything was great. The owner thanked them for the feedback and no more was thought of the call until a few days later and an envelope arrived in the post from the restaurant. Inside was a handwritten letter from the owner apologizing for the venison, together with a personal cheque for $20.00 to have a drink on him wherever they liked as well as a $50.00 voucher for the restaurant so that they could return and have another meal at a time of their choosing.

You might think this is excessive and that such a reaction by the restaurant wasn’t necessary but since that time, this couple have recounted this story to more than 40 friends, all of whom had the same reaction: “Wow, we must try that place, the service sounds amazing” and it does sound amazing. Any owner who goes to that much trouble to please his customers should expect the benefits to outweigh the cost of such an action. After all, the added booking he will receive from her friends alone will more than compensate for his gesture.

I can’t wait to try it myself and I’m not done telling others of this story yet either, so the viral effect of one phone call continues to generate interest in a small restaurant that stands out because of a phone call.

What can you do to replicate the effect on your business?

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2 thoughts on “Are you afraid what your customers think?

  1. I wish outstanding leadership by owners and managers was duplicated more often. Nothing beats the inexpensive cost of turning your customers into talking billboards!

    When customers feel like you went the extra mile to make them happy they will do the same with word of mouth referrals.

    Very nice!

  2. One risk the owner took:
    As this story is recounted, it encourages some people to show up at the restaurant and find something (or create something) to complain about so they too can get a tab and GC.

    If you’re too willing to shell out rewards like this, sometimes you encourage people to “fish” for freebies after complaints.
    This also makes real complaints and good customers who wouldn’t take advantage of this taken less seriously.

    Other than that, I’m sure in the long run it paid off.

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