Tipping Point

Dear McMenamins:

By the time you read this, I will be gone. Although we tried to make it work, I just can’t spend any more time with you.

I always wanted to like you. I am proud that you make historic preservation a crucial part of your corporate brand. Modern buildings are sleek and cool, but I would rather hang out in one of your older building that has tons of character.

No, I’m not leaving you because your food and beer is mediocre (although it is). I never expected fine cuisine from you so that isn’t what drove us apart. As long as your service is efficient and friendly I can put up with average food and beer.

The reason I’m leaving is because your service is a ragged disappointment. Oh, I’ve tried to overlook it, but it happens too often. The fun has been sucked out of our “eat, drink, and have a good time” relationship.

Don’t you know? Great service is all about the experience! That’s what your customers remember!

(Customer service tip #1- Customer service is “90% good feelings and 10% solutions to your problems”)

I’ve quietly endured your lackluster service these last couple of years but my latest experience proved to be the proverbial “tipping point”. Customer service beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I can spot a pig when I see one!

Remember the last time we saw each other? My companion and I went to the Bagdad Theater last Sunday to have a beer and grab a quick snack. It was the Hawthorne Street Festival so it was a prime people-watching day. We ordered beers and french fries and sat back to enjoy the scene.

Now I know it was busy but surely you prepared for the expected crowds by increasing your staff and simplifying your menu? I am usually pretty patient but I expected our fries to arrive in a timely manner. I mean, how long can it take to fling a simple order of plain fries into the fat? Why would I think differently? We were never told there might be a bit of a wait.

(Customer service tip #2 – Always set proper customer expectations- especially for how long something will take)

As the clock ticked away, we watched and waited …….and waited ……and WAITED. No fries, no waiter. After 30 minutes, I finally managed to flag him down and gestured “where are our fries?” He looked dumbfounded and – staring at our empty table – he muttered incredulously “you don’t have your fries yet?” Which was a silly question because our table was conspicuously devoid of fries.

(Customer service tip #3 – Be attentive so you can spot a problem before your customers point it out to you)

Instead of going into “let me fix this problem for you” mode, our server immediately started making excuses. “It is very busy today”, “don’t you see all the people?”, and “the kitchen is backed up”.

(Customer service tip #4 – Acknowledge your customer’s frustration – it’s called empathy! Customers don’t want to hear excuses – just fix it)

In the end, we finally got our fries. And they were probably the worst fries (limp, greasy) I have had in recent memory. When we got our check, we paid and left. Our waiter never checked back in with us nor did he thank us for our business.

(Customer service tip #5 Act like you care and always thank your customer for something, show your appreciation for their business)

So can you understand why I am calling it quits with you now? Despite my admiration for your focus on historic preservation, it just isn’t enough anymore. I’ve reached my tipping point. Maybe time will dim my memories; if so, I’ll look you up. Even if food is not your forte; don’t skimp on your service!

It’s too bad it had to end this way,

Anne B (aka Service Rox)

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2 Responses to “Tipping Point”

  1. Sarena Regazzoni Says:

    There are some really great customer service lessons in this article for all businesses. Get your customers to be your advocate, not your detractor.

  2. Kristin Says:

    I had nearly the same experience Saturday night at the Blue Moon McMenamins. I am generally very patient when it comes to food service (as I used to work in a restaurant), but the service was downright awful. Our Cajun Tots took 40 minutes to arrive and at no point during that long wait did the waiter even acknowledge our existence or refill our drinks.

    Thanks for this well written blog post! I share in your frustration.

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