We recently had a poor dinner experience at Emeril’s in Miami Beach. After waiting nearly 80 minutes for our entrees, we finally flagged down our waitress who said that the kitchen was “having problems.” The manager came to our table about 15 minutes later and apologized. We cancelled one of the entrees (I was no longer hungry) and the manager went and expedited the order — which finally arrived, but did not come as we had ordered it.
This blog post is not meant to harp on my specific experience at Emeril’s, but to extract lessons that restaurants can learn from this event.
Yes, all restaurants have bad days in the kitchen. But that doesn’t mean that it needs to be a poor experience for the customers. Restaurants need to find ways to overcome these types of issues. Here’s what the front of the house can learn from my C.A.R.E.S. model for service recovery when the kitchen is having problems:
- Communication: Make sure to regularly check-in with customers at their table. Keep them up to date on the order; even if it means that it will take a long time. Don’t wait until the customer complains to share with them that there is a problem.
- Accountability: Don’t blame “them” in the kitchen and act like you are not responsible. You are the brand to the customer. Make sure to apologize on behalf of the restaurant and do what you can to improve the situation.
- Responsiveness: Keep checking on the meal regularly — even before the customer real gets upset. Offer an immediate gift of some type (free drink, free appetizer, etc.) to show that you are doing what you can. And when the customer complains, get the manager over right away.
- Empathy: Recognize that customers at a resort restaurant are often out for a nice evening; not necessarily for a quick meal. FInd ways to make the evening enjoyable even if the kitchen isn’t delivering on expectations.
- Solution: Fix the problem by working with the kitchen to get the food right as quickly as possible. If it’s not right, take the costs off of the bill — and let your customers know that you are doing it. Also offer some type of discount/voucher for a future meal; let the cusotmer know that you want to earn back their loyalty.
The bottom line: The front of the house can overcome kitchen issue if it C.A.R.E.S.