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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Don't Over-reach With Your Service Level

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.
Compare and contrast the two service stories - the first from Montreal, the second from LA.

--Saturday Night in Montreal--
Status: hungry
Oblivia: Hi. I would like to order Combo 1 with spring rolls please. How long will that take?
Thai2go: 30-45 minutes

Status: famished
O: Hi. I ordered an hour ago and I was told that it would take 30-45 minutes. Can you tell me how much longer?
T: I don't know.
O: You don't know? (annoyed by stupid answer)
T: I don't know. The delivery guy is new. (She hands me over to someone more senior cause she can tell I'm shitty with her. Well done, she doesn't get paid enough to deal with things that aren't her fault.)
O: Can you tell me if the food has been cooked?
T2: The order hasn't been cooked yet. (WTF???)
O: I'm wondering if I should wait.
T2: Can you wait 15 minutes?

O: You told me it was going to take 15 minutes and I've waited 30. I don't think I'm going to wait any longer; cancel my order please.
T: OK, I'm really really sorry. We've been really busy.
O: I don't care. (I really don't. If I wanted to worry about workflow issues, I would have cooked.) You should have called to let me know, at least. (Don't over-promise and under-deliver - - twice.)
T: I'm really sorry. (Don't be sorry without moving into corrective action. I can't eat sorry.)

****buzz**** goes the door. Delivery guy comes up to the apartment while I'm on the phone. You remember: the guy they tried to blame earlier?
O: The delivery guy is here. (I hand the phone over) I want you to tell him why he needs to take the food back.
Delivery guy: Hello? ...... Give it back to her? (he hands the phone back to me).
O: Did you explain to him that I didn't want it? (I give her the chance to give it to me for free, which is what she should do given its a sunk cost at this point that could well mollify a disgruntled customer. She does no such thing.)
D: Ugh! (He's disgusted and he's leaving.) What is she doing? I'm losing money, they're losing money. This is the fourth one rejected tonight.

--Somewhere in Simi Valley, CA--
Crouchingturbo, J, and Herb are eating at Applebees, a chain of restaurants in the US has an all-you-can eat ribs deal which states clearly that "its not over until you decide it is".

Crouchingturbo: I would like more ribs please.
Waitress: I'm sorry but the kitchen is closed.
C: But I didn't say the ribs could stop.
W: But we've turned off all the stoves.
C: Well, I don't think thats good enough. I'm very disappointed. I want more ribs.

The manager comes over apologises and gives ALL THREE free meals and says that he hopes they will consider eating at Applebees in the future.

OK. I'm all for mom and pop shops. I'm realisitic enough to lower my standards of service appropriate to the bracket where I'm spending my money. Clearly, Thai2go is a victim of its own success. The thing they don't know is that I've already had an order messed up by them before but I just sucked it up and paid for the whole thing without so much as a word. The previous fuck up could have been avoided by simply repeating the order back to me confirming what I had ordered. If I called back, they know they already double checked and that, is that. Policies help to handle these situations that can and will come up. There is something to be said for standardisation and completeness in service.

A little bureaucracy goes a long way.


At 2:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Said! Keep those ribs coming!

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tao on Victoria in Westmount did that to us too many times. Problem is their food is really good, one of the few places that caters to the veggie-organic side of the menu. But after 4 screwed-up orders we decided the love affair was over, we couldn't take their mental baggage :)


At 2:23 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Sheesh, AJ, thats pretty patient. I quite like the food at thai2go as well. I can understand the impulse to do home delivery - increase volume without a similar increase in overhead but if you can't take it, scale back or change the way you work! I found the "blame the messenger" business really unprofessional.

Also, as Crouchingturbo put it, the problem with delivery is that you order when you're already hungry so mess ups are pretty hard to take....

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the owner of thai2go :) If you want to complain to him, it's easier, go up on Saint-Laurent, stop at the corner of Laurier and ask for the boss...

Yes you are exactly at Thai Grill. :)

Karl - http://www.la-grange.net/

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair they didn't totally screw up another order, and one time we even got something extra. They did give us a free meal credit when we complained, but they didn't seem very contrite about it.

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