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.