I love going out to dinner. One reason is that I love eating. The other is that I am a lazy slob when it comes to cooking. I would go out to eat every night except for the fact my wallet and waistline could not take it. Yet, tonight was special because we took Lee’s mom Patsy out for a birthday dinner. We were joined by Lee’s sister (Tammy), her nephew (Hunter), and Lee’s aunt and uncle (Mary and Terry), all of whom made the trip down from southern Alabama for the weekend. It was a special occasion ….. or at least it was supposed to be.
We made plans to go to Remington’s steak house for dinner. We were wise enough to call ahead for seating as this saved us about 45 minutes of wait time. This would prove to be the highlight of the night as the dining experience basically went downhill from there.
I’ll begin with the relatively tight sitting arrangements. We were a party of nine and they placed us at a series of daisy-chained, square tables that were in between two rows of booths. I think if the individual square tables were turned 45 degrees, the arrangement would work. But since we were sitting perpendicular to the customers in the booths, it felt like we were dining in a NY subway that had somehow veered off course and ended up in Texas.
Our server, Walter, was prompt with the bread rolls and small blocks corn bread. Unfortunately, this would be the best thing he did all night. After about 15 minutes of conversation and bread eating, Walter (who from here on out will be referred to as Falter) came around for the drink order. Now anyone who’s ever eaten at a restaurant knows how the formula works. You order drinks, you wait, the drinks arrive, you order your food and you wait. Given how long he took just to take our drink order, I felt we would be in for a long night. And we were.
I won’t go into every specific detail, but suffice it to say that orders were messed up, salads were missed, drinks were forgotten …… you get the idea. The proverbial highlight of Falter’s night was the fact that Mary did not get her entrée until I had finished mine. I will admit I am a fast eater, but I was eating steak (an overcooked one at that). I can normally wolf down a sandwich or slurp up some pasta, but I don’t inhale steaks. I chew and I savor. Nevertheless, I polished off 14 ounces of beef before Mary was able to even SEE her chicken.
Which leads me to point of this blog entry. Service is something I like to take seriously. As a service consumer and a service provider, I like to study and analyze what I feel people do well or can do better when it comes to overall service. I am a firm believer in a positive and rewarding customer experience. Why do I want to give you money for an experience that will have me up at 1:30 in the morning griping to the rest of the world?
Yet, I feel I can’t set high expectations of others if I don’t maintain high expectations of myself. Courtesy, patience, understanding, basic chivalry ……. these are all characteristics I study and analyze in myself in everything I do. I don’t always meet my own expectations (some days I don’t even come close), but I keep trying anyways. If we view every interaction we share as a customer service moment, I think we foster a higher sense of respect, good will and overall happiness. And that is something in which no one should ever falter.