My daughter and I just returned from lunch at Rose’s Café. As always, the service was fast and extremely friendly, and the food was delicious. I’ve never had a bad experience at Rose’s.
But Rose’s is not where we planned to eat lunch today. We walked in and right back out of Campo at about 11:08 today.
My daughter’s 18th birthday is fast approaching, and she wants to celebrate by hosting a special dinner with her friends. She asked me for recommendations, and I suggested Campo. I’ve never eaten at Campo, but I’ve heard great things about it from one of my Facebook connections. We decided last night to have lunch at Campo today so she could check it out before planning her birthday event.
I checked the Campo website, and it clearly said they open at 11 am. I went to the gym early this morning and told my daughter to get up and ready earlier than usual so we could head downtown by 10:45 am. We parked in the parking garage and walked the two blocks to Campo. The doors were open when we arrived about 11:08, but when we got inside, we were told that lunch did not start until 11:30. I told the hostess the website says they open at 11, and she politely replied “sorry.” She invited us to have a seat and wait, but I felt the wrong information at the website had already wasted my time and I was not willing to let them waste another 20 minutes. As we left, we walked past the owner standing outside the restaurant. We don’t know each other, but I recognized his picture from his website. I once again said “your website says you open at 11” and he politely replied “sorry, we need to change that; we open at 11:30.”
At 11:30, we had already walked the two blocks back to the parking garage, driven to Roses, ordered, and were taking the first bites of our exceptional sandwiches.
A company website frames expectations and makes the initial promise of satisfaction to customers. Campo failed the cycle of service with me when their operations did not deliver as their website promised. It was reasonable for me to expect them to be open at 11 am because their website said they would be, and it was reasonable for me to be very unhappy when I was on time but they were not.
They made a mistake, but they could have easily recovered from that failure – if they had seen it as a service failure, which they clearly did not. To compensate for their mistake and our inconvenience, they could have simply offered us some complementary coffee while we waited or a complementary drink or dessert with our lunch. A large gesture was not necessary, but some gesture was. I’m sure they thought their polite apologies were enough, but I interpreted those to mean “we really don’t care.”
If you can avoid it, never let a customer leave your business unhappy, and never let someone that walks through your doors with the intention of making a purchase leave without spending money. Campo lost a good lunch ticket today, but they also lost a much larger dinner party sale and my free word-of-mouth marketing. They did not give me the opportunity to do for them what they cannot do for themselves – recommend them to my friends.
Check your company website right now and fix any inaccurate information. Review your entire cycle of service and make sure you have procedures in place to meet or exceed your customers’ reasonable expectations and to recover impressively when you don’t. If you leave impressive customer service to chance, chances are it might not happen. Never forget that the cycle of service often starts long before the customer ever walks through your front doors.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!