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The good, the bad and the ugly sides to customer service

August 01, 2014
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I have written before about Yelp and how it can be a thorn in every business owner's side, or a blessing in a not-so-disguised format. A bad review can lead to a positive change, or a chance for you, as a business owner or manager, to come across as composed, reflective and repentant.

A few weeks ago, my family and dear friend went out to eat at a restaurant in Albany, N.Y. We were dining out prior to the Bruce Springsteen concert which was taking place that night around the corner from the restaurant. We made a reservation, so I wasn't too worried when I entered the restaurant to find a fire-code-offending, crowded scene, similar to that of a mosh pit. And, even though I once worked in the restaurant industry after graduating college and empathize with all facets of the medium, I must honestly state that the service was...horrible. The food? Horrible. Our burgers were served on sliced bread (we were told all of the sandwich buns were gone due to the crowd) and the quality was...horrible. I immediately thought about putting a review on Yelp. There was no way I could let them get away with this, I opined.

Then, when the clock struck 8 and the Springsteen concert commenced down the street, the crowd depleted and we were left in the restaurant with the owner, who was bussing tables.

Our group at this point was heading out the door. "Was everything okay," asked the owner, who seemed a bit frazzled. "Well," I said, "I can tell you now to your face, or I can put it on Yelp, which would you prefer?" The owner, making the obvious choice, stood there as I told him about the food, the service, and everything else that had gone wrong. "I sincerely apologize," he said. "We were not expecting that size of a crowd. We usually do a much better job." I said, okay, I will take your word for it and will come back and see for myself. "It's a deal," he said.

The next day, my father-in-law received a phone call from the owner. He had gotten his number from the reservation. The owner apologized to my father-in-law and said he appreciated our business and said he will make sure it doesn't happen again.

And that, my friends, is what we call redemption. He took a bad experience, and with that one phone call, which was filled with an apology and accountability, made it a good example of how to run a business.

We can't be perfect all of the time, but we can be perfectly accountable and sincere.

Until next time,

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