Bad Customer Service

Will Lukang, CLDC, CSM, PMP

We always have fond memories of my sister-in-law’s annual Easter visit.   It is that time of year in which we invite a couple of our friends with little ones to participate in Easter egg hunt.   A tradition that we look forward to, because it gives us the opportunity to connect and catch up.

Every year, my girls are excited because some of their female cousins will come for a visit and spend time with them.    It is their bonding time.  This year the big thing for them was manicure and pedicure.  As soon as they arrived, they texted me to see if they could have manicures and pedicures, in this case we obliged and let them enjoy the weekend.

On April 7th we were deciding which place to have our dinner and my nephew reminded us that a new restaurant named Aoyama just opened on Thursday that week.    There is something about supporting your local business and I’m passionate about it, therefore it was not hard to make such a decision.

So, Aoyama it was.  We went at 6:30 PM to try to beat the mad dinner rush.  We arrived, and with minimal waiting, we were seated, in spite of having a party of eight.   The restaurant has a great ambience and the first impression was great.   They took our drink orders then later our meal orders were taken by 6:45 PM.

By the time we realized it, it was 7:30 PM and none of our food had been brought out.    Meanwhile, we saw some of the people around us, who came in later than us, being served.   We asked the waitress and she indicated that she would check and it was coming out.

Around 7:45 pm, four dishes came out, but the noodle soups for my girls were still not ready.  Also, two other sushi dishes were not served.    At that time, I asked the waitress for a word with the manager.  The manager did not approach our table until 8:30, at which point we had waited almost two-hours.   He explained that they were really busy and he was very sorry.  When I explained that we had waited almost two hours, he declared that there were two other groups that had the same issues.  I was shocked by his response. What was the benefit of telling me that we were not alone and I was in the same boat as two other groups?    That’s not the way to do customer service.  I mean, highlighting your deficiency will not make your customer happy.   I was only asking for an explanation why orders were served to people around us, but he had no answers other than “I’m very sorry.”

By 8:45, one of the noodle soups came out.  At that time, my 6-year-old said, if we ate at the other Japanese restaurant we would be long done.    I was expecting the other noodle dishes to come out soon.  But I found out they had not been prepared it at all.   We can cook the same noodle soup at home in 30 minutes. Why did we wait over two hours for their noodle soup?  I gave them too much credit to do the right thing and they messed up the chance to have a good customer experience.

One other sushi dish came out and the other was forgotten.    Once they found out they forgot to fill the other, the sushi chef did not do anything.   Overall, we all rated Aoyama in Wyckoff a 0 star.  They don’t deserve to have any star because they don’t know how to treat their customers.

I learned the following about how not to treat your customer;

1)      Sorry is not an answer/solution for all mistakes; actions need to be taken.

2)      Telling your customer that we are having the same problem with other customers does not make your customer feel good.

3)      Paying customers deserve your attention.

4)      When you failed to fill an order, make up for it by delivering the dish.  Not doing anything is the worst thing you can do.  Because it is tantamount to ignoring your customer.

5)      An unsatisfied customer will tell 10 more people, while a satisfied customer might tell one or two of their friends their experience.

6)      If you’re in the restaurant business, starving your customer is not a good thing, especially if they’re children.

7)      If you want repeat customers, you need to provide a good user experience

8)      Lastly, treat your customer the way you want to be treated.

In spite of this experience, we continue to support local businesses, because it is important to help them sustain their business.    My hope is that the managers of Aoyama have learned their lessons and rectified their issues, because we hope to one day give them a chance again in the future, as everyone deserve a second chance.