Friday, January 13, 2012

Service = Serve Us?

Since my iPad incident, I've become a rapt reader of Consumerist.com, the website that so kindly posted my story in an effort to spread the word. While the site's commenters often represent the dregs of the Internet, the site itself has proven informative & interesting as far as learning about business practices both good and bad. Because of Consumerist, I've begun to place even more importance on good customer service, as many of the stories they post make it painfully clear that so many businesses are doing it just plain wrong.

In the past, a few of you have told me you appreciate that I so often report my experiences, both good & bad, to the companies who provide them. With this in mind (& after being blasted on Facebook today by the nasty owner of a Chicago wine shop) I thought I might recap a few of my best customer service experiences in recent memory.

  • Graffiato
    After an unfriendly run-in with a hostess at my favorite D.C. dining spot, I shot off a tweet to the restaurant & owner Mike Isabella to ask what was up with the icy attitude. Manager Nick emailed me almost immediately, securing my group a reservation & apologizing for the hostess's nastiness. Amazingly, when we arrived at Graffiato, Nick led us to a booth with a prime view into the kitchen & put in free appetizers & prosecco for us! I was blown away - and the food was, as always, phenomenal.

    • Popchips
      When my favorite snack company sent out an email announcing that the first X number of responders would receive some delicious free samples, I was all over it - but when I clicked through to enter my name & address, I found that Washington, D.C., was not an option in their drop-down menu. Upon my getting in touch to let them know, Popchips promptly added D.C. to the list & sent me a whole box of chips to thank me for pointing it out! Nom.

      • ASOS
        The pretty party dress I ordered from this online retailer shipped last week, but when I clicked through to track the package, it said "Destination unknown." Worriesome, right? I posted my concern on ASOS' Facebook wall & received quick & friendly response asking me for my order number, followed by a personal note from an ASOS rep that assured me my dress was, indeed, on its way to Portsmouth. This all happened within the span of, say, 10 minutes, & my dress arrived two days ago.

      • The District
        I can't say enough good about my first (and so far only) experience at this Portsmouth restaurant. I'd planned for Nathan's birthday scavenger hunt to end at The District, so in advance of our meal, I called & spoke to Jana, the hostess, who happily agreed to help out & even called me the day of the reservations to make sure everything was set. I arrived at the restaurant early, sans boyfriend, with a gift that I handed off to her with instructions for our server to bring it out with our dessert as a final surprise. Amazing food, even better service.

      Unfortunately, for each of these positive experiences, I can name at least three negative ones, like: the time a server dumped a pitcher of margarita over my friend's head & only took 1/3 of the pitcher price off our bill (Alero); the time I found a rock in my spicy fried rice & didn't get so much as an explanation or apology (Tasty Thai); the time only half of our food came out & we were charged for all of it anyway, just because they eventually packed it to-go (Ping Pong Dim Sum).

      The point is this: Good service goes a long way. Though I may complain loudly about bad service, I also try to make a point to hold up good service as a shining example of how all companies should act - because a job well done is just as important as, if not more important than, a job that pisses me the hell off. (It should also be noted that I tip damn well for good service, as I encourage you to!)

      So tell me: What are some of your best & worst customer service run-ins? Have you ever taken to the social media  streets to make a case against the places that have treated you poorly?
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