Recently I experienced two service snafus that were equally disappointing. While there were two different restaurants involved, two different servers, two different problems and two different ways of addressing the issues, only one ultimately got it right. The other one dropped the ball.
Read through the situations below, then ask yourself how your team would have handled each dilemma should these problems occurred when you were not in your pizzeria.
Issue One — Soccer game night for both of my boys. It’s 8:30 and my kids are young. They have an early bedtime. My wife and I need to go somewhere fast, get them fed and get them home. We go to a local Italian joint and order pasta dishes. Nothing complicated: spaghetti with meatballs for the boys and me, fettuccini Alfredo with chicken for my wife. We’ll be in and out fast with that order, right?
Forty minutes later our server comes to the table to apologize. “I’m really sorry,” he says. “Your food will be out in just a moment. I’m not sure why it has taken so long, but I’ve alerted the manager that you guys have been waiting forever.”
Okay, I think to myself. This is a good start to rectifying the issue. The server was astute enough to recognize on his own that other tables were getting food and getting out the door before we had our food. He realized our wait had been long and he even went to notify the manager. I was satisfied. I assumed the manager would be by the table not long after our food arrived to make sure everything came out as expected and to offer her own apology for the wait. And that’s all it would have taken.
Ten minutes later there’s still no food. And there’s no manager in sight. Oh, and I’ve neglected to mention this detail: no more than 30 percent of the tables were occupied. The place wasn’t busy. The kitchen wasn’t overwhelmed.
The server comes by again. He’s sorry again. He’ll get our food pronto. And he did. And it arrived at the table cold.
The manger never came by. Even though the problem was brought to her attention by the server, she never took the time to visit our table and make sure we were enjoying her restaurant’s food. As guests, we received no communication from her at all.
Would this be acceptable in your pizzeria?
Issue Two — My boys have a few friends over. We order pizza delivery. The $55 order arrives (two large pizzas, breadsticks, wings and brownies) hot and fresh. But the breadsticks and sauces the kids wanted are missing. As the delivery driver hands over the food her face shows her disappointment.
“Oh no!” she said. “We left off your breadsticks and sauce. I’m so sorry. I’ll be right back with it.”
“It’s okay,” I tell her. “It’s not a big deal. Can you just have the manager credit me the cost of the item? I hate for you to have to come back out here.”
“I can do that,” she says. “But I don’t mind. I’ll have it to you as fast as I can. I’m so sorry about this.”
Twenty minutes later the missing items were delivered to my door.
In both cases, the server and driver recognized there was a problem. The driver took action and handled the problem on her own. The server also took action — he went to his manager and notified her that there was an issue. But the manager failed to act.
Can you guess which restaurant has earned my next food order?
Jeremy White, Editor-in-chief