The other day I was at a local neighborhood vegetarian cafe. It is owned and operated by my former caterer. His food has always been great, but customer service sometimes questionable.Are You Taking a Bite Out of Your Business?
For example, there was the last party he catered for me, food was divine, mouth watering bite-size appetizers including such delicious morsels as brie with apricot preserves in fluted pastry shells, mini chicken kebobs, and sliced pear on brioche with blue cheese.
When I looked around at the halfway point to locate Chip since we had a couple of empty platters, I couldn’t find him in the kitchen or dining room. I did notice and removed a large pile of his business cards from the table (I had not been asked and didn’t think it was appropriate.) Imagine my surprise when I noticed him comfortably sitting in the living room talking with one of my guests, and acting a lot like a guest!
He must have been confused about what customer service means and decided that he was done for the night and could himself act like a customer and be served.
Well, he got out of the catering business, and moved instead to private dinner parties and the cafe. I’ve been in a time or two for take out. I figure with that, I don’t need service, just good food. I noticed Chip seated with a vendor, not a guest, very focused on whatever the vendor was selling him. There was no one at the counter. I pulled seven containers from the deli case for take out and in the mean time another customer came up to the counter.
She was standing there and no one was paying any attention. I leaned in and asked if she’d been helped, knowing she had not. She said, “no.” I stepped over and tapped Chip on the shoulder and motioned that we both were waiting. He looked startled, got up and yelled to his folks in the back to come out. I was stunned. He then promptly turned and went to rejoin his vendor. REALLY?
I couldn’t believe that he didn’t take care of us directly and apologize. I then remembered the party. He doesn’t realize that the business owner is the lead in the business and sets the tone for all interactions. He somehow mistakenly believes he is a guest in his own business. In the process he is taking a big bite out of his business. Unfortunately since like attracts like, his service staff are not particularly gracious, friendly, or worth returning for.
Despite the great gluten free, dairy free, soy free shakes he produces and vegetarian cuisine, I’ll be hard pressed to spend anymore money with him, I can’t support his attitude. In fact, I’ve actually been stewing over this for a couple of days because it is such an incredible lesson in HOW NOT TO TREAT CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS.
I’D LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES ON CUSTOMER SERVICE IN COMMENTS BELOW!