Less than medium-well service

My wife and I enjoyed a great steak dinner for Valentine’s Day at a Plano, Texas restaurant by the name of Mignon. It’s really a great place, and I bet we go back sometime. So this isn’t a rant about them as much as an object lesson. But we couldn’t escape without falling victim to one of the most blatantly wrong yet most frequent mistakes in good customer service.

We ordered our food. My wife ordered her filet medium-well, with the side note that she wants a “true medium well, with just a very thin line of pink.” The waiter confirms that this is what a true medium well would be, and as we wonder aloud if getting it well-done would be better (knowing from experience that a thin line of pink is rarely what you get from a fancy steakhouse when you order medium-well), he tells us that means the steak will be gray all the way through. My wife doesn’t want that, so we stick with the medium-well.

As he leaves, my wife predicts that it will come back too rare.

And it does. We’re not talking thick line of pink, we’re talking think line of red. Nowhere near anyone’s definition of medium-well. So we wait a few minutes, and I guess the manager could tell the steak wasn’t the way she likes it, so he comes over, takes the plate and promises a new steak very soon.

About 5 minutes roll by, then the manager comes back with a new piece of meat ready for us. He leaves, my wife cuts it, and it’s even redder then the first time. Our waiter comes over (the great steak educator) and takes a look and then proceeds to tell us that this is a medium-well steak. He carries on that “on a filet, this is exactly what medium-well is. I will get you what you want, but this is what you asked for.”

So many things wrong with this. Here’s my attempt at a quick summary:

  • I’m no steak aficionado, but that steak was not medium-well by anyone’s standards. I like my steak medium-rare, and this thing barely fell into that category.
  • Don’t usher me into a debate over what I did and didn’t order. Whether this is medium-well or not by your standards, it’s not what I want. You aren’t making me happier by trying to prove to me that I don’t understand how to order a steak.
  • We even talked about a thin line of pink before. We agreed that this was our definition of medium-well. What you have given me is nothing like that.
  • If you, Mr. Waiter, would apologize swiftly, recognize the problem and attend to it, you probably would have gotten a bigger tip than had the steak come out the way I wanted it originally. Instead, you belittle my wife’s intelligence and ability to order food, and therefore your tip was less than 15%. (I hope you noticed that).

Why, when faced with customer service situations, are we so prone to tell our customers they’re wrong? Even if they are, even if we can prove and justify everything we as the business have done, even if their request is ridiculous, why would we ever want to argue with our customers? If you think about it, by engaging in these pride-buidling, relationship-destroying discussions, you’re telling your customer that you’d rather be right and them wrong than for the two of us to come together and figure this thing out.

Good business is about solving a problem for your customer. Or at least trying to solve it. Customer service, the kind that works, doesn’t even show up until there’s an issue. Good customer service shines in these moments, and it makes all the difference.

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4 responses to “Less than medium-well service

  1. I concur. We’ve been there. Doesn’t Wal Mart always claim, “The customer is always right.”?

  2. Regardless if they got it right or wrong – I believe the bigger picture is that you sprung and took your wife out and bought her a steak. I am impressed. Good job.

    Also, this sounds like your faith in the cook falls in the lost luggage category.

  3. Just for being in the room, waiters seem to act as though they should get 20% or something. I went to a well known country breakfast place, it took 15 min. to get a drink order, 45 min. to get our food (pancakes and eggs) and when it came out, there were no grits for my wife. The response was not “I’m sorry, we’re out of grits what would you like in stead” the response was simply “yea, they told me 15 min. ago we’re out of grits.” To which I said, “okay, either bring us grits or take the price of a side of grits off our bill.” 5 min. later she brought my wife soup like grits that were not done. As we left I put ONE DOLLAR on the table, to which my wife said “no, you can’t do that” so I left another Washington. On the way out I heard a woman at a table by us say “he was only going to leave $1…” in a snippy tone. I just don’t get it. They were the 3rd couple to sit there while we were there, by the way. Tips are for service, I think we’ve lost that idea in Dallas/Fort Worth. We eat out too much, and have more Resturants per capita than ANY METROPOLITAN AREA IN THE WORLD!!!! DId you know that? Crazy. I, for one, tip over 20% if the service is better than average. If it’s less than average, I shoot for 15%, if it’s bad I tip less tan 10%. So there we go…

  4. Kyle – Wal-Mart does claim that, but I think they’ve started losing sight of it. When I think Wal-Mart these days, I rarely think good service. I normally think cheap products, cheap expectations. But, they still have a point, whether they live up to it or not.

    Casey – thanks for the props. I have my moments.

    Harris – Great stat on restaurants in the D/FW area. Another thing that bugs me is that we’re expected to pay on the amount with tax, not without. Think about that – I should pay you 10% of the food price, not 10% of the food price plus Uncle Sam’s price. We should definitely be legit about service – 15% should be “met expectations,” not the minimum wage.

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