Is it just me or have you also been experiencing this problem lately?
I’ve recently had a number of really unbelievably bad customer service incidents. One was with a wireless carrier — should I be surprised?? — and another, a real doozy that I’ll detail in the near future on this blog, with an online retailer. A third one happened at a restaurant during a recent trip.
The restaurant incident was small next to the other two but strange in it’s own way. I went for an early dinner at a Pakistani restaurant in the Bay Area. There were only a few customers in the restaurant at the time, and only two of us who had placed orders for food. The others were already eating.
The waiter brought out some food and gave it to the other customer. I looked over and thought, wow, what a coincidence. It looked like he had ordered virtually the same dishes I had. The customer started eating his meal and I didn’t pay much attention to him beyond that.
About 10 minutes later, the waiter brought out my order; or at least what he thought was my order. As he placed the food on the table, I looked at it and said, this doesn’t look like what I ordered. The waiter started speaking out the names of the dishes, and the other customer — seated a couple of tables away — perked up, and said to the waiter, “I think that’s what I ordered.”
The waiter looked at him, somewhat puzzled and asked “Are you sure?”
“Yes, pretty sure”, the customer replied.
The waiter asked him, “Do you want this food as well?”
Much to my surprise, the customer said “Yes” and the waiter took the food over to his table.
The waiter returned, gave me a very brief apology — “Sorry about that sir.” — and went back to the kitchen.
I eventually got my meal. It was a small incident, but I still can’t understand the following:
- How, at a very slow time, with only two customers ordering food, had the waiter completely forgotten who ordered what?
- Why, after making the mistake, they thought that “Sorry about that sir” was all that was needed?
- How the other customer failed to realize he’d received entirely the wrong meal and didn’t alert the waiter?
- How that customer expected to eat two full meals of food?
Customer service may be dead, but in this one case, at least one appetite was very healthy.
Question: Should I have expected more than a simple apology? Or was my expectation too high?