Wednesday, July 20, 2011

how it all began

Most people are familiar with that iconic scene in the movie "Pretty Woman" in which Vivian tries to go shopping on Rodeo drive for a "conservative" cocktail dress, only to be turned away by a few salesgirls who are too big for their designer britches.  Oh, that rhymes with something apropos!

Talk about bad customer service!  By way of a short aside, I work for a company with an emphasis on both sales and customer service.  You might imagine most companies in today's financial climate would focus on the latter to drive the former.  However, a problem we occasionally run into with our sales reps is what we call profiling, which is exactly what happens to Vivian in this little snippet.  Judging by superficial but immediately obvious characteristics, a person in a sales role might blow a terrific opportunity because they "put 2+2 together" and figured the person wasn't going to buy/couldn't afford it.  As Vivian later comes by to show, these salesgirls made that mistake and it cost them a big bonus to their paychecks.

For as pitiful and/or anger-inspiring as that scene might be, the next scene is nothing short of inspiring:

She returns to the Regent Beverly Wilshire, still looking very much like a hooker, and is stopped on the way back to her room by the hotel manager, Barnard Thompson (played by Hector Elizondo).  He escorts her into his office to discuss how unwelcome she is at the hotel but that since she is with a very wealthy man whose business he wants to maintain, she will be allowed to remain until he checks out.  When Barnard tries to dismiss her, Vivian tells him her shopping tale of woe and becomes visibly upset. He picks up the phone and calls a "friend" who works at a women's boutique.  She helps Vivian find the perfect LBD (little black dress, for any men in the audience) and everyone is happy.

This example further illustrates the point I alluded to in last night's post: whenever one person turns you away or provides very poor customer service, there is usually someone waiting just around the corner to win your very valuable business.  My hope for this blog is that you will look around until you find that person.

This past weekend, my husband and I, along with 13 friends, visited North Bowl in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia.  We made merry, aside from missing out on some of the eating and drinking that would have been going on if our waitress was even remotely interested in serving us.  Apparently, she was far more interested in having a conversation with other employees to notice us waving our menus in the air and staring at her after we'd been seated for about 30 minutes.  When we finally convinced her to take our order, she was extremely patronizing and couldn't even be bothered to check back on us after a runner delivered our food.  If she had come to visit us a time or two, she very easily could have doubled or tripled her tip.  Like I said, there were 15 of us and we spent 5 hours there, eating (kind of), drinking (when we wanted to walk over to the bar for more), and catching up on lost time.

Despite her complete neglect of our tables while we were there and hungry, she somehow managed to find the time to bring us our check and check back to see if we were ready twice within about 15-20 minutes.  Impressive!  If only she had been that bored earlier....

Because I was the one who recommended the joint, I was embarrassed that my friends had another reason to think all service in Philly is horrendous when I specifically chose North Bowl to demonstrate the opposite.  Her "service" was unacceptable and as soon as we got home, I wrote a very long and detailed email to North Bowl, letting them know how dissatisfied we were and how unlikely we were to patronize their establishment in the future.

I'll tell you something, though.  If you're looking for the link to North Bowl in the Last Place Losers tab, you'll be poking around for a while.  Why don't you save yourself some time and head over to the World Class Winners tab if you'd like to get their contact info, check out the menu, and plan your next trip there.

Why the change in heart?  Not even 12 hours after I wrote that email, I received not one but two replies from Leemor, one of the managers.  He was horrified by my account of the service we had received and wanted to make it right.  He watched the video tape of the time we were in his establishment in order to identify and correct the wayward waitress.  He apologized profusely and sincerely for her behavior and assured me that it would be addressed and we would not have that experience again.  He closed by making the smart move of any manager (which we all know, but it still works) - he invited me and three of my friends to come back for a round of bowling and drinks on the house.

I am thrilled with his prompt and professional response to my complaint and he has ensured that North Bowl has returned to my good graces.

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