The evolution of customer service.

This weekend I had a really awful experience with customer service.  A chain restaurant we frequent and always loved sadly really messed up handling my issue.  I always knew that “the customer is always right” was a distant memory but what we’ve evolved into is just a crime.

I’m not going to share the name of the restaurant but this is a restaurant and location we frequented weekly.  It was our regular spot for Friday night dinner.  (Notice my past tense.)

Normally the food is wonderful but this time my husband brought home the food and I took one bite of my side dish and had to frantically spit it out.  It tasted as if some cleaning chemical or worse was spilled on it.  I then proceed washing my mouth out with an entire bottle of water and throwing out any my family’s remaining food. This restaurant is trendy, not cheap, so this meal went in the trash.  My next goal was to call the restaurant to alert them of the issue.  I, admittedly, was both panicked on what I or my family ate along with being annoyed that now it’s 8:20pm and I still haven’t eaten because my meal I paid for is now inhabiting my trash can.  I was polite but it didn’t matter.  I still got a harsh response from the person this restaurant trusted to supervise.  The flip accusatory then condensing tone was a travesty combined with a sad understanding that this is the new normal.  After I tried to teach them that they should be more concerned about a patron calling about eating something fowl in the food they then went the route of trying to fake placating my but offering to replace my “bad tasting” food.  Then didn’t bother ever asking my name.  Vacant promises.

What was the moment in time that changed us from “the customer is always right” to “customers are liars”.  Sometimes in life you can actually see a moment where society just got it wrong.  We made one decision that sets us on a new trajectory for the worse.  One recent moment that comes to mind is when the Texas child pleaded ‘affluenza’, you know this will come back to bite us.  I now see why in court room dramas on TV and in real life why the prosecutors try so hard not to allow certain cases to win because not only with it be detrimental to them but to future cases.  What happened to turn the view when a customer calls to say their food was inedible so you then respond by saying “sorry that’s not possible and I don’t know what to tell you.”

This article on smallbusiness.chron.com is right when they say “the customer may not be always right but they do pay your bills.”  It’s a known statistic that is costs significantly more to prospect a new customer than it does to keep the ones you have.  Instead of just saying she’ll replace my food (which by the way only gets me back to flush) and how sorry she is for this she decide to lose my families revenue stream.