Some of the other editors and I just got back from lunch a while ago, and we all walked back to our various offices and cubicles somewhat deflated. What had started as a fun Friday excursion on a beautiful, warm, springlike afternoon quickly went south when we encountered some unusually poor service at one of our favorite restaurants.
I don't think the waitress cracked a smile once, she seemed cranky when we made special requests (e.g., black beans instead of refried), and as our food came out, the errors on our orders piled up one after another until it was almost funny. (Well, maybe it wasn't so funny to my two friends who had to wait an additional 15 minutes for their correct entree.)
What's more, the five of us were seated at a small booth that maybe could have held three comfortably, and when we weren't being knocked into by other customers on their way to the restroom, we were trying to keep from kicking and elbowing each other as we navigated the chips and salsa.
I know customer service is hard. People in those roles have to put up with a lot of bad behavior--I read your stories on the Community, and I've experienced life on the other side of the cash register a few times myself. But we weren't being particularly high-maintenance or demanding, and even when things got bungled up we tried to remain pleasant. When all was said and done, we hoped maybe at least our cheese dip would be comped—a little freebie would have gone a long way to retaining our good will. But no such luck. Like I said, we left in low spirits.
The bright side of all this, I guess, is that even basic customer service can put a business head and shoulders ahead of the competition. A friendly demeanor and competent service are, more and more, like a breath of fresh air.
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