Seeing Lake Tahoe at sunset through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows from Jake’s on the Lake restaurant delivered the wow factor for a milestone anniversary dinner. And the dinner itself may have been the most phenomenal I’d had in years. Perfectly cooked steaks, striking presentation, wonderful red wine from Napa. If only the waitress had seemed even half as happy to be there as we were.
One would think a check that size early in the evening on a slow weeknight would be enough to force a pretend smile. But, no. We had to ask about the specials that were featured on the colorful chalkboard in the foyer. And had to ask again to find out the soup of the day. She was nowhere to be found for a glass of water. By the time we had to ask about dessert, even our kids were making jokes about the surly waitress. Looking back on the experience, I cannot remember what we ate, though I know it was excellent. I remember it as our anniversary dinner with that unhappy waitress (how anyone can be unhappy in Lake Tahoe, I still don’t know).
Most restaurant owners work very hard on the menu, the food, the décor, the colorful, chalkboard signs, and the location, location, location. They spend heavily on advertising to constantly bring people in through the door. Then, when the people don’t come back, baffled managers may tweak the menu, bring in live music, invest in fancy, new décor, or cancel their advertising, never realizing that everything was already right on the money, and that repeat business was being turned away by one (or more?), surly front line employee.
Are you confident your front line employees are delivering a customer experience that drives word of mouth marketing? Or could one or two be unwittingly turning away your customers with surly emails, sour expressions over the phone and inappropriate social media posts? Even the most phenomenal advertising and PR would be hard-pressed to overcome consistently poor customer service.