Soup Keeps the Hungry Beast Satisfied

Last week we meet two other couples, all long-time friends, for dinner at a local restaurant.  We chatted, looked over the menu and placed our orders; none of us ordered an appetizer.  We had plenty to talk about, as we had not seen each other for some time – news about families, vacations, and a little catching up on other friends (OK, it was gossip) who were not there.

Then one of us remarked that it seemed like we were waiting a long time for our meals and we were starting to get hungry.  A couple moments later, the server came and told us that the kitchen staff was running behind and our dinner was delayed, “but, she was going to serve us a bowl of soup ‘on the house’ to enjoy while we were waiting.”  The cups of soup were delivered along with more bread.  The soup was delicious, and our hunger subsided while we continued our enjoying the company of old friends.

Conversation around the table continued, but now the topic was that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle a potential customer dissatisfaction snafu in the kitchen and that they had handled it the right way… bravo!  

They had three options, one terrible, one neutral, and one that would ensure attracting great “word of mouth advertising” and repeat customers.  The terrible option was that they could have ignored the situation, and we probably would have grumbled about “slow service.”  The neutral option was that they could have told us about the problem and “thank you for your patience.”  But they chose the best possible result and exceeded our expectations.  They kept the hungry beast satisfied and will have six people talking to their friends about the wonderful, thoughtful service and dining experience.

We all know that, as much as we want our businesses to always satisfy (over-satisfy) our customers, sometimes things go awry.  Sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes the situation is beyond our control, but the customer doesn’t care about that.  They, very rightly, care about their own satisfaction.  But the way we work to rectify the situation is the real issue.

Just as our experience in the restaurant above illustrates, we have three options when things go awry.  A business that plans on growing needs to satisfy customers, even when things are not going perfectly, and the actions they choose to use to delight instead ofdisappoint are critical… and I like my soup served hot! 

Question or comment to Larry:  larry@larrygaller.com