Do you really?
Recently, Aprill and I treated her mother, father and niece to a holiday lunch in Nashville, Tennessee. We were doing a day of shopping, and we had the opportunity to choose among several restaurants in and near the mall in which we were spending most of the day.
We chose a national chain instead of a number of local options primarily because we thought the service would be predictable, and we were also under a bit of a time constraint. If I told you the name, you'd recognize it. (I won't because I do believe this is an isolated instance.)
While it wasn't a miserable experience, it was far below subpar. Several tables around us were unbussed when we arrived and remained unbussed when we left 1:45 minutes later. The service was slow and surly. The food was good after it finally arrived more than 40 minutes after we ordered, even though they sat us at the table closest to the kitchen and on the pathway all servers used to get to their tables. I'm a pretty forgiving customer. Food service is hard. But this particular outlet was less than 50% full the entire time we were there and yet, our lunch was mediocre at best.
I felt a little sad. I don't often get to have lunch with my in-laws, and I wanted it to be better than it was. I expected more.
When I returned home, I got on the website of the restaurant chain and relayed all of what I wrote above, along with a few more details only the restaurant would care about. A few days later, I got the reply I've included here.
I was floored.
First, I can assure you the name of the restaurant was not "marketforce," and I would bet good money the manager does not, formally or informally, go by the name "data."
But it is in the text of the reply that the dedication of the organization completely falls flat. We take feedback of this nature very seriously...
Do you? Do you really? Do you really take feedback of this nature seriously?
I had a bad experience in one of your restaurants and, instead of just leaving it, I took the time when I returned home to tell you, spelling out in great detail an experience that was many levels under acceptable, and all you can say is It is our hope that you will give us another opportunity to provide you with both fantastic service and great food in the future.
Not. A. Chance. I never say never—but in their case I'm making an exception. Never.
On the website form it asked the amount of my bill, the amount of which I expected in a gift card in the mail within a day or two. If they want another opportunity, they need to make it on their nickel at the very least.
Finally, even though I blocked out the name of the restaurant, the bottom portion of the email is exactly as I received it. "Sincerely," then nothing. No name. No title. No corporate slug or logo. Nothing.
How do you take a bad experience and make it worse? Send this email as a response to a customer complaint.
So don't look for me anymore. I won't be back. I don't care how good the macaroni is...