Once in a great while, we each encounter service challenges. The experience simply didn’t live up to its expectations (I think that is called the Expectation Gap) and my family and I survived one this evening.
We were in Bellevue, Washington for my daughter’s cheer leading competition – and we chose to go to dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s (now part of the Landry Group of restaurants). The menu offered three types of crab and I was in the mood for some Dungeness Crab. One option was Lemon and Garlic and before ordering I asked our waiter some questions (yes it would warm) and a couple of other small items and placed my order. When the meal arrived, there were 3 large sections (call that a crab and a half) and it was in a deep bowl presented on top of some greens, mushrooms, and other vegetables (which I assume were tasty – but never tasted (see copy of message to the leadership below).
Needless to say – I held two conversations with the manager and never did they offer any form of adjustment (mistake in my humble opinion). Now the story gets better. I decide I will contact the leadership and express my suggestions and observations. I went to their website and they do not have a contact us (via the website) button or link (or if they did – it was well hidden). They did have telephone numbers to call and a mailing address to write a letter, but no electronic communication. I could email banquets and make a reservation at one of their locations, but no direct communication option. But – at the bottom of the page was a Facebook button so I clicked it and landed on their Facebook page. So, humble readers, I used their Facebook page to share my story and I have provided a copy of my text here:
Dear Leadership of McCormick & Schmick’s –
I apologize for using Facebook for this message but your website appears to exclude an “e” connection to your leadership –
Suggestion Number 1: Add that to your website so I don’t have provide public feedback – or if it is on your website – make very easy to connect (examples – look at an airline – they have a contact us by multiple ways so they don’t add to a customer’s frustration).
So – here goes –
Suggestion Number 2: Bellevue, Washington – apparently I must have been the guinea pig on a new method for garlic/lemon crab. Now – I understood it was to be “goopy” as a dish- however I never anticipated a presentation with part of the meal below the crab sections, the crab was split but not cracked, I wasn’t provided any cracking tools (until I requested them) – I wasn’t provided a plate for my shells (they ultimately filled up my bowl with the vegetables (guess what – never tasted the vegetables – since heck, they were covered with shells, and then I had to ask for a picking fork (which the restaurant didn’t really have).
Now I have picked oh, maybe 200+ Dungeness in my life – so picking was no big issue – but it would have been nice if….
Hint #2: provide a plate with some wet (with lemon) towels so my hands could at least feel a little clean – never offered or provided
Hint #3: if the guest suggests there is a presentation dilemma as to how best to devour the dish – do not have the waiter suggest that no one will really complain if you “suck” it out of the shell – that may be fine in a backyard crab feed – but heck – we were sitting in your restaurant and I didn’t feel it was appropriate.
Hint 4: When the manager stops by because the waiter (smartly) suggested it since, – the presentation was a disaster and having been told it was a “new” dish – the manager should not only bring a bigger dish for my shells (thank you) but – offer some form of a comp – I wasn’t asking – but let me suggest
Hint 5: Study Marriott (or better yet the Ritz Carlton) and learn how to deal with a customer disappointment – as the best way to earn loyalty is to fix the hiccups while they are in progress and do not have the customer beg for something (not classy – was just simply going to write the CEO a letter – the old fashioned way – but I think Facebook may be better – since now all of your fans will learn from my experience)
Hint 6: When the waiter was advised that we were already Landry card holders – he might have considered that this wasn’t our first restaurant rodeo – but never even considered that and the manager apparently didn’t either
Hint 7: Fixing challenges is easier if your team handles them at the scene – I asked the manager about the job experience of our waiter and was informed that our waiter was in his first waiting job – he was pleasant but under coached – I suggest having a better education program – that is empower them to fix it – offer a free dessert, discount the meal – something – but nope nothing other than to discuss that maybe there could be a better presentation.
Hint 8: Pay attention to customers that care enough to write more than a simple message – plus I lead global seminars on Total Quality Service – and great real life experience stories are the best ones – you might want to follow up with me. Now – on that website version – you would have captured all of my contact information – now you’ll have to find me the old fashioned way – I hope you do I would like to learn how this experience isn’t repeated.
Hint 9: My wife reminded me that white wine should be served in chilled/cold glass and not in one recently warm from dishwasher – as warm glasses ruin cold wine.
Otherwise – nice location – food tasted well, service was genuine (if simply inexperienced – which I can live with as we all start out somewhere – if you want learn how to coach servers – visit Berns Steakhouse in Tampa – there a waiter will have been an assistant waiter for a year – before being allowed to serve alone and they rarely have service problems) but food quality is only 1/3rd of the challenge any restaurant faces – presentation/ease of eating the meal is another 1/3rd and this was, unfortunately, a failure. I hope you are able to remedy this.
BTW – your website would have also requested, the date of my meal (tonight), the location (Bellevue), the time of reservation (8:15), etc. – to make it easier for you to reach out and connect with me.
I hope you do.
Now – I didn’t sign it since they have my Facebook name from the posting – we’ll see if they reach out. I will let you know if they do. Service failures occur frequently. It is how a business fixes the problem that separates success from failure. McCormick & Schmick’s was a Portland restaurant group (my home town) and they went bankrupt a few years ago and were acquired. Maybe I understand now why they did. Maybe they simply didn’t understand TQS – and all service businesses must master total quality service before they can ever achieve pricing power and above average profits. Failures in service lead to business failures and that is a cost a business can not afford to take.