Wow, yesterday’s blog entry about our terrible Chez Sophie experience really struck a chord with all of you! I haven’t gotten that much feedback on any blog post in ages. I guess that tells me what’s important to people — that being treated well in dining is universally important, and that the controversy is fun.
Based on all your great feedback and encouragement, here’s the final version of my reply letter, which incorporates some of Alex‘s feedback and is on my mailbox going out today:
Dear Ms. Clark,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to our concerns about our evening at Chez Sophie. Unfortunately, you missed the point: Our table was abandoned.
Regardless of the type of wine service you offer, no one ever returned to our table – not to fill the water, not to ask us how our food was, and not to fill our wine glasses. If our server misread what we wanted, then how should we have informed him that we would have appreciated more water and wine, and to be asked how our meals were? Should we have flagged him down as he walked by without checking in?
You singled out and defended the wine service by implying that our waiter misread our desires. I think you are being too kind to him on this one. Our glasses sat empty on our table and were ignored because our entire table was ignored. If our server was truly interested in providing the most appropriate wine service for his customers, don’t you think he might have noticed the empty glasses that sat there waiting for him to fill?
Although I found your citations on wine service educational, they don’t apply when considered in the context of our evening. Our waiter had plenty of time to chat with his colleagues, but no time to ask if our food was satisfactory.
We’ve eaten at countless restaurants from San Francisco – where we used to live and enjoyed many evenings of excellent restaurant service – to London to Barcelona, and never can we recall a time that our table was simply abandoned like it was that night at Chez Sophie.
Since sharing our story with friends who also live here in town, I was shocked to learn that another couple had nearly the identical experience at your establishment – also with (name removed). They don’t plan to return, either.
Finally, I may not have experience running a restaurant, so I would certainly never tell you how to do your job, but, as director of customer support for an international software company, I do know quite a bit about good customer service.
Next time someone complains, you might consider not debating the complaint or making assumptions about the clients’ age sensitivity. I think you’ll find you’ll have happier customers – some who may even give you a second chance – if you acknowledge the complaint, apologize, say you’ll do better next time, and invite the customer back again for another chance. Heck, we might even have given you another chance had your letter not been so defensive and argumentative.
Be it dining or software, good customer service is universal.
don’t businesses get that bloggers are all around and spreading the good/bad word about their services? don’t they know who we are?
I know she was half-kidding, but it’s a serious point. One bad experience written about on one blog can have a tremendous ripple effect. People talk. Too bad, so sad for Chez Sophie. Maybe when they realize that word has spread about their terrible service, they’ll decide to do something about it rather than making excuses for it.
Contrast the Chez Sophie experience with the one we had in early 2004 at the Mexican Connection, shortly after moving to Saratoga Springs. My blog was then easily findable via Google searches, so the owner of the Mexican Connection sent me an email, apologizing for the experience and inviting us back in for another chance. We took him up on the offer and although he didn’t comp the entire meal, we were taken very good care of and did receive some comped appetizers. Now that’s how to turn a bad experience good.
Taking notes, Ms. Clark?