Mystery Shoppers, why are they important to helping your business.

In any industry it is a good idea to gage how your employees interact, act and react with customers and co-workers.  I’m sure there has been many times you have walked away from a dining experience or service situation and was disappointed in the service or the product.  Question is, did you go back?  Did you say anything about the situation to the business?  How many friends did you tell?

If a customer is complaining, they are giving you an opportunity to correct something that went wrong in the customer service process and retain their business.   Yes, some people would complain about everything and anything  and no one can make them happy; those customers are rare.  The ones that smile and say little to nothing as they leave are the ones that are tough; instead of getting something off their chest giving you, the operator, a second chance they might never be back and they will of course share their negative experience with others.

This happens to be something I can’t recommend enough as it bothers me the most.   Restaurant owners put a lot of money and hard work into their business and in a blink of an eye one of their employees could make a mis-take that is damaging beyond repair.

For example, I asked for a recommendation from someone that knows restaurants very well about who would be one of the best places to eat in Scottsdale.  After receiving his recommendation I went a few days later with a friend.   Of course we have all done this kind of thing time and time again so this is pretty standard stuff.  I get to the restaurant which was very nice a fairly business for a Monday night; parking lot was well lite, clean.  The entrance was clean and welcoming, heard music right away and the manager seated right way, so far so good.   I was with a friend and we were both in good spirits that evening glad that we didn’t choose the alternative dinner plans for the evening so we were ready to dine.  The our waiter showed up and changed the whole mood.

His appearance, demeanor and over all attitude set the tone to how our experience was going to be from there.  His shirt was disheveled and with a few buttons undone, more that what should have been for the caliber of the restaurant.  One top of it his attitute resembled his shirt.   We were only drinking tea that night which did not  get our server all jazzed up.

When the server brought our drinks we were looking at menu an I asked my famous questions “what’s WOW on the menu?” “what items are so good I have to write home to Mom about?  From experience, those questions are enough to get the server on board with what you are asking, if not them I ask, “what are your top five items?  You favorites or more ordered items?  Again, this is pretty standard stuff.  I was shocked at what he said next, “why don’t you just read the menu and if you have any questions let me know?”  Questions?  Didn’t I just do this? I then said, “I understand I could read he menu and ask questions however I wondered what were your (the server) favorites and what sells the most?’  I got the same response.  This is where perception met reality as the body language and conversation reflected the shirt.   The thing is, the server knew the menu very well after I got him to open up which was impressive.

The appetizers were average, my speciality salad was disappointing and as for the entree it was good, just nothing I would order again.   The server’s attitude and preformace remained the same and as the manager walked for the fourth time just before we got up to leave he asked, “how was everything this evening?’ which I replied “everything was fne”.    As we left I debated what to say as the manager ended up followings up outside  which gave me a chance to share with him our experience.   I did tell him I was only sharing my response in hopes it would be a positive for the restaurant.

The manager should have seen the body language and he could have asked a better question to us at a better time during our experience rather at the end of our evening so he is as much to blame for the poor experience at the server.   Will I be back?  Maybe.  Nothing against the owner or the staff and maybe next time it would be so much better however, there are so many restaurants in Scottsdale and the valley that I could just move on to the next one to see if they get it right.

After all the time and money the owner put into the restaurant to have something like this happen is too bad and on them mild side of a negative experience.  Now multiple this by 2 negative tables a week, with two diners multiplied by 52 weeks equals 208 customers that are unhappy with their experience and that is one the low end.  Now they say one negative experience and a diner will tell ten people about their experience, and those people will tell more people so you can see where this will add up!  Imagine what can happen with a positive experience?

I am not overly picky when I dine however when I do dine I would like a fair exchange for my time and money.   I understand this segment well and I can made difference in these situations.   Yes, maybe it was one bad night but who knows, once a lot of times is all we need.

Madonna Kash

Restaurant Marketing Partners/ Foodservice Geeks
voice    602.492.8419
mobile 602.692.1135

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