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RESOURCES.StraightAhead_Customer Satisfaction
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Customer Satisfaction: Provide It or Pay The Price 

My dad had a great saying, “Remember, your good name will carry you farther than your feet.” I’m not sure it originated with him, but it sure made an impression on me. The story I’m about to share with you is what happens when a major bank, a nationwide entertainment company and an independent restaurant, each in their own way, found their “good names” or brands, if you will, losing some of their luster.

First, the entertainment company. On October 25th of this year the Wall Street Journal reported that shares of Netflix, the video-rental company, were trading for around $75 for the first time in 18 months, a 36% plunge that continues a dramatic tumble that has erased about 12 billion from the company’s market value in just 104 days.  The declines follow Netflix’s quarterly earnings report, in which profit and earnings revenues were up sharply but the video-rental company was haunted by its decision to raise prices and its admittedly botched effort to divorce rentals of DVDs from video streaming services. Those moves caused more than 800,000 subscribers (that’s not a misprint) to flee in the third quarter and removed a lot of goodwill with investors.

Second, on November 3, 2011, a Crain’s New York Business headline read: “Poll: B of A customers most likely to leave.” It went on to say that “some 9% of Bank of America’s corp. customers were ‘not at all likely’ to continue to use the bank, a Harris interactive poll shows. Not-for-profit credit unions, on the other hand, score highest. ”Bank of America, the second-largest US bank by deposits, angered some customers when it announced plans to charge $5 a month for debit card use. The firm dropped the fee this week after J.P. Morgan, the biggest bank, and No.3 Wells Fargo abandoned the tactic. Other new fees, including those for checking accounts, “may push clients to credit unions” according to a spokeswomen for Harris Interactive.

Before I move on to the restaurant, the third member of this exercise of dissatisfying customers, I realize that it might sound like a stretch comparing two corporate giants with a single operation. However, this is a column dedicated to writing about the food service industry and a dissatisfied customer is still a dissatisfied customer no matter where it happens. This operation is located in an affluent area of New Jersey, and it possesses a dozen good reviews, including the New York Times, The Newark Star Ledger and Zagat. The customer who had this dissatisfying experience was an executive with a Fortune 500 company. He is an international traveler and has dined in restaurants in many countries. In a word, he is an experienced restaurant customer.

On the basis of this restaurant’s reputation, the customer hosted a dinner for 22 of his business associates and this was the result. A room that was supposed to accommodate 40 could barely take 22. There was one server for drinks and food, when there should have been two. Appetizers that were supposed to be passed were instead placed on a small table where 22 people had to serve themselves. Two entrees where placed on a table, and when one was emptied, it was not replenished. The other appeared to be left over. Dessert was not what was originally ordered.

I have been in the food service industry for more than 65 years and have never heard of what happened next. One of the guests asked to have a different salad than was being served, which was done. Remember, all of those dining were being hosted. At the conclusion of the evening when the check was presented to the host, a check was also presented to the woman who asked to have her salad changed. Hello!!

I should also point out that most of those in attendance live within a 30-mile radius of this establishment. It’s one thing to have one or two dissatisfied guests leave your restaurant, but 22? It is an accepted fact that when a customer has not been satisfied he or she will tell at least 15 to 20 friends. Multiply that by 22, and I would say the house had as bad a night as did their reputation.

The host contacted the restaurant the next day, and the response was that they were sorry and that the host and his wife should come in for dinner as guests of the restaurant. His response was that he did not receive what he was expecting, and no dinner for two can change either that or his embarrassment.


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