September 24, 2013 |

Jeremy White, Commentary — A Customer Service Failure

By Jeremy White

We sat there… and sat there… and sat there…. My oldest son had just finished up playing a doubleheader in baseball. It was one of the hottest days of the year. In fact, he had to be removed from the game due to heat exhaustion. Needless to say, when we arrived at the pizza restaurant the entire family was parched.

We were greeted by a smiling, friendly hostess and promptly seated within minutes. And, as always, we were ready for pizza.

The shop in question serves a deep-dish pizza, so we knew we’d be in for a long wait. No problem — we wanted an appetizer (my crew is crazy about wings) to start off anyway.

Our hunger mounted as we talked about the day’s games. We became increasingly aware of our thirst. A half hour later we were in a nearby barbecue joint quenching said thirst.

That’s right –– we walked out. After being seated by the hostess, a full 20 minutes went by and no one ever came to our table. No drink order was taken. No server greeted us. No manager was in sight. I literally mean that we did not have an employee walk by our table for a full 20 minutes. I intended to complain to the hostess on the way out… But she wasn’t there either. I glanced into the kitchen as we exited and saw plenty of employees in there, servers included. Was it an ill-advised, impromptu management meeting? Were the employees simply goofing off because no management was present? I don’t know. But I do know that a couple that was seated right before us got up and walked out when we did.

As a small business owner, relationships are paramount. How would you handle the situation if it came to your attention today that six guests walked out of your pizzeria because they were left in the dark for 20 minutes after being seated? Who’s ultimately to blame for the customer service failure — the server, the manager or the hostess?


Jeremy White, editor-in-chief