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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Speak up about poor service and give people a chance to shine.

Part of owning your universe is defending your right to be treated well in everyday situations. In short, when you are a customer, you should be given every courtesy and respect that should be given by a business wanting your loyalty and more importantly, your money.

The other day a good friend of mine invited me and my family to watch Iron Man at a local shopping center called Rockwell. Yes I am a fan of these comic book based movies. Shoot me.

Rockwell Power Plant Mall is an upscale shopping and dining destination. This mall is a very nice place. One of the attractive features here is the fact that there are not that many people walking around so the environment is unhurried and relaxed.

We arrived a bit early for the movie. My friend had actually pre-purchased the tickets so there was no need to stand in line. Deciding that we were all hungry we began the difficult process of choosing which of the many fine restaurants we would eat in. Finally after careful deliberation and a couple of false starts, we chose a place called “Kaya”.

Located in what would be considered the “food court” of this mall, Kaya is competing with several of Manila’s heavy hitters in the restaurant industry. Kaya itself focuses on Korean fare on a somewhat affordable level compared to other similarly apportioned establishments. The restaurant itself is relatively small but nicely decorated in what could be considered a fusion style of modern Asian design and Denny’s. You would have to read a menu to fully realize that this was a Korean restaurant.

Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by several employees repeating what I think was “welcome” in unintelligible Korean. I asked to be seated in a place that had an electric outlet nearby because I knew that the battery of my laptop was running low. Without hesitation the server lead us to a table near the kitchen entrance and after seating us, proceeded to pass out menus.

It was when the server came to take our orders that the problems started. First, my wife usually does not order anything when we dine out with our two children. There is inevitably a large amount of leftovers which she then happily consumes so as to not waste perfectly good food. The problem here is that to keep the pricing deceptively reasonable, it appears that the portion sizes were kept very small. I did not have a scale with me but it seemed that the portions were approximately 80 grams or so. When you order kalbi ribs a good portion of that will be bones. This order did not go very far and we were forced to order more items. Good for the restaurant but does not make you feel like you are getting very much value for the buck. I would have preferred to have been charged slightly more and been pleased with what was brought to the table. My wife had a sour look on her face almost the whole time. Not only was there nothing left for her but the kids wanted more.

I on the other hand was “watching” everybody eat. Yes I said watching. My food was missing in action. My friend followed up twice. Each time he would ask where my order was our server would rush off never to be seen again. The third time we followed up, another server came back informing us that all the items we ordered had been served already. By this time, the group had finished eating and I was upset and hungry. I immediately called for the original server. When she arrived at the table I tried to ask what had happened to my order. Not having a good answer to my question, she said sorry and asked if I still wanted it. That was the last straw, I asked for the manager.

Her name is Cynthia A. Esperanza. She introduced herself as the manager of the restaurant. After explaining what happened she called the server over to ask her side of the story. The server to her credit admitted that she made a mistake. Ms. Esperanza then explained that the server would be disciplined and apologized for any inconvenience before she returned to the kitchen. I thought that the problem was solved. I was still not happy at this point and definitely still hungry.

After a few minutes a server came out with two bowls of ice cream. I thought it was a nice gesture and thanked the server. I thought again that the problem was solved. I was less hungry and a little happier by this time.

A few minutes later, two full plates of cool delicious watermelon, and two plates of sweet sliced pineapple were placed in front of us. The group was shocked. I was impressed. I called the manager to tell her that I was very happy with her attitude towards customer service. I could not think of anything else that she could possibly do to show us how much she did not want to loose our business. After we paid the bill, she had one more surprise. As we walked out of the restaurant, she handed me my missing order. Incredible. She even handed my two kids lollipops as we left. I will definitely be dining here again.

My point in telling you this story is two fold. First, when you do not get what you are paying for, you must not be afraid to speak up. By “letting it go” you are actually empowering the negative service to continue and affect others. You are also perpetuating being a victim. This negative energy will remain within you attracting more such incidents. Secondly, this manager should be very secure in the service industry that she chose as a career. She was willing to make decisions that some may think went above and beyond what was necessary to not loose a customer’s loyalty. To her it was a natural decision which demonstrated that she has taken ownership of this business. This is an invaluable asset in an employee and the owners of Kaya should be happy to have her on board.


Brian said...

That really showed that the manager was a real asset. I've been to many restaurants that lacked a manager of this caliber. Great post.

Stefanie said...

I try to get my husband to speak up when he isn't treated properly, but he has a much harder time of it than I do.

We had a bad experience at a restaurant that was not taken care of by anyone once. The restaurant is supposed to bring you bread without question, but I had to ask for it after we had been sitting for 15 or so minutes. The server forgot to bring our appetizer out until she had brought our meals. She brought my husband out the wrong order, and forgot part of my order. After bringing out the right ones, she disappeared. The couple at the table next to us had ordered their food from this same server, and waited half an hour for their food to come before they cancelled the order and left.

I asked a different server if she could get me the manager, and she said yes. We waited another 10 minutes or so for the manager to come out, and he/she never did! We ended up leaving very angry.

Of course, I also have good experiences with speaking up. When we purchased a new mattress, the salesman didn't tell us we could get a low profile box spring instead of the regular size one for a little extra money, and when I found out that was an option, I called and complained, and the store ended up sending us the new box spring for free with free delivery!

David Tamayo said...

Wow, what an experience. By speaking up you give everybody a chance to feel good about themselves. You for defending yourself and your right to be treated fairly and the entity you are complaining about by giving them a chance to redeem themselves. Thanks for the comment. Good for you.

Bestfriend's blog said...

hi,nice post david...thanks for inviting me.Ako ay isa lang na trying hard bloggers.Baka marami ka mapuna hahhaha basta go lang ako sa blogging journey.And i gain lots of friends around the universe.Ingat and God bless