DOES YOUR BUSINESS HAVE A SERVICE RECOVERY PLAN?
Ted and I decided to head out to breakfast on a beautiful Sunday morning. We knew all of the restaurants would be packed and so we were prepared to wait – but maybe not as long as we actually waited. When we arrived, the hostess was at the door, seeking our name and number in party. We asked how long the wait would be and she noted that it would be a 20-25 minutes wait. We went about our business, looking through the shop. It was quite crowded.
And it passed.
Finally, as we were looking around, we realized that they were seating people and parties our same size, at tables, while we were still waiting. We had to wonder if technology let us down (the hostess put our information into a computer) or possibly human error (the hostess was trying to balance a few things at a time.)
So, we ventured to the second hostess at the restaurant and asked if she had an eta on our wait time. She asked our name and checked the list up and down but could not find it. I explained we had been waiting for 30 minutes and were seeing people who came in after us that were being seated. She immediately looked us in the eye and said “We are so sorry and we will clean off the next table that comes available and it will be yours. Again, we are so sorry.” It was as if we had become the only two people in the entire restaurant. Her goal was to get us seated in the quickest manner possible.
She assisted the busboy in cleaning off the table and put menus and fresh silverware on the table. She said “again, we are very sorry. Sam will be your waiter. Let me go and get him and explain the situation.” And off she went. Within 30 seconds, a manager came over and said “we are so sorry for the miscommunication. What can I get you to drink?” We ordered. Then, Sam arrived, apologized and said “we will move your order to the top of the list. So sorry for your wait.” And boy did they! We had breakfast in less than ten minutes.
Why did I tell you this story? I told it because clearly this organization had a recovery plan – a plan that was set up by the corporation, trained to the employees and embedded as part of the company culture. Everyone was involved. The second hostess made sure we were seated and had everything we would need for a positive experience. She made the manager aware of the situation. The manager made the waitress aware of it. The waitress made an extra point to get our order in quickly so there would be less wait.
Now, I know what you are thinking – did they give us a free meal? They didn’t have to. You see, they solved the problem before we even got out of their door. And actually, Ted and I had discussed it and if they would have offered us a free meal, we would have turned it down. They did everything we could possibly think of to accommodate us.
If you do not have a recovery plan, where would you even start to write one? You might want to sit down with your staff and find out their top ten issues they have faced the past and take each one and map out solutions. Once a final solution is made for each, role play the situation so that everyone sees the entire recovery phase. Then, be sure and document the process in your employee manual.
Every company is going to error but not every company will be able to rebound. Make your plan.
Some other things we observed that really worked:
• A couple of chairs for seniors. Both seniors in the chairs had canes and would have never been able to wait as long as they did.
• Two employees walking around the shop, assisting customers. (They were also doing security in a discreet way.)
• Several bussers who could turn a table in less than a minute. Truly, the business knows the value of turning a table when they have bussers during busy times.
• An employee who could be called to look up prices, wrap gifts or be asked general questions. This allowed the checker to check people out in a timely manner without leaving their station.
• A manager who was VERY hands on – helping bus tables, check out guests, refilling refreshments, seating guests – wherever the manager was needed, they were there. And how did we know that there the manager? By the way they were dressed and held themselves.
It was like a symphony with everyone playing their part. A bad note was hit in the first measure but everyone came together and the experience ended just like a Mozart creation!
Customer Service and Beyondwww.dawnmushill.com firstname.lastname@example.org