This Service Stinks

From Cartoon Stock.com

From Cartoon Stock.com

I have bugs in my living room. Big, leggy, gross bugs and when you squish them a blue goo comes out.  Ick.  At first there was just one and then a few days later, one more.  Over the last month I’ve seen and disposed of about 12 of them and yesterday when I saw one on the wall, I had had it and decided to learn more.  I carefully put the bug, still living, in a sandwich bag, grabbed my purse and headed to the local “helpful place.”

I was given great assistance by a young man who not only knew the bug to be a stink bug but that it was harmless and sensitive and found a stink bug catcher than I could hang in my living room. I had done quite a bit of digging in the dirt around the edge of my house in the back and had noticed the bugs out back and he assured me that this trap would take care of the ones inside.

So home I come, ready to get rid of the stink bugs only to discover that for inside use I also need a special stink light sold separately.  It doesn’t work without the light.

So one day later I head back to the helpful place and was met by two women who said I probably just needed to open the box.  Nope, I assured them and then pointed to the small disclaimer on the box.  I said that I’d been told this would do the trick and did they have a light?

I was taken to the section of the store and was told that nope, they don’t carry the light.

So I was sold something that won’t work? I asked. 

She didn’t make eye contact. She didn’t apologize.  She did not offer to call another store or order one in for me.  She just turned away and walked up to another customer to see if she could dispense more of her helpful service.

I can understand that some stores can’t possibly afford to carry all of the inventory available. I can also understand that stores sell out of popular items during certain times of the year.  But to not acknowledge the situation I was now in and to walk away without offering any further assistance or at the very least suggesting that Lowes or Home Depot might have what I need, felt hugely less than helpful.

What do you think?  Is it common sense to try and find a solution for your customers or is the “oh well” attitude that I encountered what we now should expect when shopping?

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Making Friends While Waiting for a Table

I was in a hurry Tuesday night.  I had 45 minutes to grab a quick bite before heading to a meeting.  I didn’t want fast food but didn’t have time to enjoy Ruby Tuesday’s lovely menu so I opted for Eat and Park in Streetsboro.  I always wondered about the name of this chain of restaurants.  The natural progression would seem to require the name be reversed:  Park and Eat. 

And that’s just what happened to me.  I got parked at the front door waiting to be seated.

When I arrived a single customer was waiting, in fact leaning on the podium that stood by the front door.  We exchanged eye contact and then proceeded to wait in tandum.  I watched the manager through the door to the kitchen walk by and glance in our way.  “Oh here comes someone,” I thought.  I was wrong.

I watched a harried waitress in the distance as she walked briskly from the tables she served to the kitchen area.

Out came a male employee with three containers to add to the salad bar.  He didn’t look our way.

Another couple arrived to wait behind me and we all said hello.  “Much of a wait?,” the couple asked.

“Well, let’s put it this way,” the guy said that had arrived before me.  “I’ve been here long enough to notice there are two waitresses, this guy filling the salad bar and I even walked over and looked at the salad bar. Frankly I was tempted to grab a plate and help myself because I think that may be the only way I get dinner.”

The couple behind me said, “That’s this new generation.  Look at that guy filling the salad bar.  You know he can hear us and yet he is ignoring the fact that we are waiting because it isn’t his job.  Why in my day…”

I spotted the manager again through the kitchen door’s window and yet still he did nothing to take care of the new customers waiting for a meal.  He was not part of the new generation but looked to be about my age.  Don’t think it is a generational thing, but I could be wrong.

I looked at my watch.  I now had 30 minutes.

The waitress approached and said ‘I’ll be there in a minute.” She returned and said “Party of four?”

No.  Three separate parties.

The pained look on her face truly made me feel sorry for her.  It wasn’t her fault.  She was working her tail off but to ask two waitresses to handle the door and their tables was clearly not enough.

So I thought:

  1. It’s the manager’s responsibility to staff appropriately so did he staff too few and decide to anger customers rather than go to the expense of having more employees scheduled in hopes of additional customers?
  2. Are we raising a generation of “it’s not my job?” employees?
  3. Is it possible that the employee filling the salad bar was new and hadn’t been trained to greet and seat customers?
  4. Shouldn’t that be the first thing every employee learns:  how to say “hello” with a smile?
  5. If local word of mouth has spread the word about the lack of service and under staffing of this Eat and Park – what will the manager need to do to turn things around?

It’s almost a chicken and the egg story.  If you staff adequate people and then don’t get the customers because the word is out that service stinks – you suffer financially.

However, if you don’t staff enough people you continue to support the local WOM that service is bad and you suffer financially.

I like Eat and Park and this was my first poor experience.  I enjoyed the conversation I had with the three other hungry guests but I took myself across the street to Bob Evans where Shandra seated me with a warm greeting, brought me water and a menu and had my order into the kitchen before I’d settled and opened my paperback novel. 

I was out the door in under 30 minutes.

As managers, are we blaming the economy for poor sales results when in fact we should look in the mirror and face the fact that perhaps we bring the problems on ourselves??

Hmmm.  what do you think?

Photo courtesy of Girl Half check out her post on service in Manhattan.

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