Pre-Emptive Sales & ServiceIn my last post, I criticized a restaurant where I received some bad service. So it’s only fair that I write a post about a restaurant where I received some great service.

A while back when I was in Naples, Florida to conduct a sales training seminar, I had lunch at a restaurant called Tommy Bahama’s. A friend had recommended it to me, raving about their food and service. I placed my order with the cheerful server and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Just as I was beginning to wonder where my food was, the waitress came to my table and said, “I’m sorry sir, your order slip got misplaced in the kitchen. We’ve got it taken care of, and your order will be ready in just a couple minutes. And your meal is on the house today.”

Whoa.

I sat there in mild shock for a moment. The problem was resolved before I even had a chance to get upset. I didn’t have to complain, argue or ask for anything. I felt important and appreciated. How could I not forgive them for the mistake?

When the food arrived, a scant two minutes later, it was delicious. But what made the meal memorable was the wonderfully proactive customer service. The sense that I was taken care of.

What would have happened if the restaurant had not been so proactive? Nothing. I would have gotten my food, thinking, “It’s about time.” I would have eaten my meal, although my enjoyment would have been significantly diminished by the long wait. And I would have walked away thinking, “Well, the food was pretty good but the service was awfully slow.” I would never have gone back or mentioned the experience to anyone.

But because of that pre-emptive service, I’ve recommended Tommy Bahama’s to thousands of people. And I look for opportunities to return. For the cost of my meal, they’ve garnered themselves thousands of dollars worth of free publicity and earned a customer for life.

Mistakes happen. They’re inevitable. But when you make a mistake, admit it quickly and take immediate action to correct it, whatever the cost. That way you’ll always leave your customers with a good taste in their mouths.

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