Thanksgiving 2013 Trip to Florida-The VALUE of Customer Service

Chloe and I had a wonderful time overall. We spent most of the time house hunting, giggling and driving. We landed in Tampa to stay in Venice for most of the trip. We did however run into a couple of disappointing situations that I will talk about shortly.  Wednesday we decided to check out and hit Miami. The Radio show was a hit and off we went only to be slightly delayed due to real estate paperwork signing. However, we did manage to make it to Naples for a short walk around the mall and then to Fort Lauderdale by 7:30 pm. We were starving and so the hunt began for a meal fit for two traveling divas.

I would like to state that in no way am I bashing or claiming that any of the companies are consistently like what I am about to describe. Contrary to that thinking, I was shocked as I usually have  great success -all over the country -with these chains. The reason for this blog entry is to demonstrate the Dos and Donts in Customer Service. As a coach, its important for me to share these valuable lessons with you so that you can make sure you correct your personal behaviors in a customer service setting.

First stop, Bradenton, Florida Buffalo Wild Wings:

                                   Chloe loves the wings here and I do appreciate the fact that the Jerk wings are Gluten Free. Yumo! We normally have terrific success at this chain but this experience was not even laughable. It was shocking. Now, mind you this is a wings place. Finger licking foods. So, it makes sense that one uses the restroom and washes hands. Chloe and I even mentioned to the hostess prior to seating that this was our intention. We sat, the waitress took our order, brought our drinks and we went to the restroom to wash our hands. Afterwards, we proceeded back to our table only to find another couple sitting in our spot. What? Our drinks gone, table cleaned and wa la! New customers.

I asked for a manager and he was very non shalont about the whole thing. “Oh, well they must have thought that you had left. I’ll find you another table. “

Customer Service Error # 1. “Lack of apology”.

Instead of apologizing, he sounded as though this was a regular experience. That the need to turn over tables was more important then customer service. Poor management choice and judgment on his behalf. I do feel that his ability to find another table was the right choice.

Customer Service Error #2: “Hurry up and EAT”.

Once the manager established that we did not have to re order our order, the waitress came to redeliver fresh drinks. There after, she came to the table every 4 minutes and even placed our check on the table in under 15 minutes. She was hurrying us out. Very disappointed. I have waitressed in various establishments and the one thing I do know is that to hurry a customer is bad business. I want to earn as much as I can like anyone else but find that turning tables over quickly is a sure sign of an empty tip jar. This was a classic mistake and they should clearly re train the wait staff and maybe even the management. Most establishments fair better if they have repeat business. I am pretty sure I will not eat there again.

Customer Service Error #3: No, Thank you.

Even as we were hurried through our meal and a staffer restocked our table as though we were not there, we paid and tipped accordingly. I did notice that there was no discount or offer to pay for our Ginger Ales. Nothing to say, “Hey, we are sorry! Please come back. “ Clearly, our business wasn’t a concern for them. This was super sad, poor management and poor customer service. The right thing would have been to offer a coupon for another visit or to pay for our ginger ales. Allowing us to leave with the perception that we are just a number was a bad choice. 80% of Marketing is word of Mouth. If I tell ya that I am not going to visit a place for said reasons, you will be less likely going to want to visit it due to my referral. So, get with the program BWW. I know that for the most part BWW offers a good experience. This particular night was an exception to the rule. I hope.

What we got that time was a clear   “No, Thank you. Please don’t come back. “

I did email them and am waiting on a response. But my hopes is that corrections can be made so that others can enjoy their time at BWW, without this hassle. Overall, the rest of our stay in Venice was topnotch as always. We stumbled across a little shop called The power of One. We met some really nice healers and one offered to vibrate my feet. Yes, vibrate my feet. I of course said “Yes” as I am always up to learning about new healing modalities. So, he proceeded to take us to a back room (don’t get dirty minded now) and asked me to remove my shoes. I then proceeded to stick my feet in a Tibetan singing bowl filled with packing popcorn.

Yes, its true.

He than begin to make the bowl sing with a handle. He ran this handle around the bowl faster and faster until the bowl not only vibrated but hummed! Oh! Fantastic! The vibration went up my legs until it reached my shoulders. What an amazing sensation. When he finished I was able to walk around the room but it felt as though my feet where jello. The ground wasn’t a hard surface for a few minutes. Once the sensation mellowed out the ground become harder again.

Then it was Chloe’s turn. She looked at me like ‘Oh my gawd Mom! YOU are Crazy.’ I smiled as I knew this was an experience for her and she will remember this. She too had the same Jelly toes feeling when all was said and done. I chatted with …….for a while longer learning about who he is and why he chose this path. It was wonderful and enlightening. Chloe went to purchase a Gord at the end and they gave it to her in h

onor of Receiving. She was in an angelic state after both experience’s. She felt very blessed as they gifted her not only with Jelly Feeling toes but a stunning rock for her to take home.

Monday and Tues we were house hunting. We put on our war paint, dressed in casual and grabbed a few bottles of water as we knew that we had a long day ahead and this is serious business. 12 Houses to view and we knocked out 3 just because of the neighborhood. Chloe was witness to all kinds of situations. We went through some great neighborhoods and some really questionable ones. We saw houses that where not quiet what the photos offered on line and certainly not as clean either. We saw a place or two that really should have been condemned. EEK! However, we did have a tough choice on two and after weighing out a few things I placed an offer on the more expensive of the two. Reasons where mostly the location and feel. I think its terribly important to FEEL comfortable in the space you will live in for a considerable amount of time. One was less expensive but neither of us FELT comfortable there. It was a nice space clean and nice neighborhood but the vibes where all wrong. So, as I write this my offer was accepted verbally. When I publish this I will know clearly if we got the space.

Now off to Miami!

I love long drives. I love chartering places I haven’t been too and taking the long way around. I feel that is the best way to learn, observe and really experience a place. I find it mostly interesting those who choose to move so fast that they end up not only missing out on life but also end up acting very rude. I ll get into more details as we go along but wanted to clarify that traveling with me is a slow and not planned process. I like to take my time and observe. Unfortunately, due to some delays we did not get to drive through the Cypress National Park during daylight. I was disappointed as I was looking forward to that.

As we got closer to Miami it was getting late and Chloe and I could have wrestled a gator and BBQ’d it as we were so hungry. So, we found a P.F. Changs. You all know how much I love P.F. Changs. I was thrilled as we hadn’t eaten there in a long time and what a perfect way to end our drive! We don’t even need a menu. We order the same thing and have always had an incredible experience no matter which P.F. Chang we visited. However, this one was a shock and I was amazed at what transpired.

We entered with pure excitement and certainly some drool dripping off our chins. Our bottoms where thrilled not to be sitting as it was 215 miles to this point and we were ready to stretch. The hostess asked me my name and snickered when I gave it to her. A little offensive but at this point I was just looking forward to our Lettuce Wraps and a nice Merlot. She did not seat us so I assume she was just a greeter and someone came around the corner to seat us. I found it interesting that they did not give us a children’s menu either. (Tip: If there is a children’s menu and a chil

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d present, please offer the children’s menu.)

We were seated and handed our menus. The waiter arrived 15 minutes later and took our drink order. We also offered our entire order and I think Brandon was grateful as he seemed to be a little busy. Chloe and I love, love the Lettuce Wraps and when they arrived we had to hand the waitress our plates as they where very dirty. She scoffed and stormed away. I was shocked by that but it was a holiday week and tensions can rise for some. The manager brought us plates that were clean and we proceeded to dig in to our wraps. Nom, Nom, nom.

The meals arrived and we were handed plates again. However, they where dirty. I mean covered in some form of food and grease. I had to ask again for clean plates and we waited again. We went through the process of requesting clean plates 4 times. And to top it off the order was not completely what we asked for. As I waited for the 4th set of plates in high hopes this time they would be clean I watched the floor manager take plates that where handed to him by wait staff and he proceeded to wipe them off with a towel. I was disgusted. He was merely wiping off the grim and not actually handing us clean plates. Insert mild vomit in my mouth. I mentioned my overall disappointment to Brandon our sweet waiter. He comped my wine, which was thoughtful and good customer service. However, I will never eat at that PF Chang’s again. I cant say that I have felt so strongly before about avoiding certain places. This is one time I really don’t think I would eat at this location again. We all have our moments and this doesn’t mean its consistent. But with the witnessing of the Manager wiping the dirty plates to offer them as Clean. That was the straw that broke this camels back. EW. I know that most P.F. Chang’s we have visited are well run, smooth, clean and have terrific customer Service. I will enjoy visiting another one elsewhere.

(I did send this same information to Corporate and they too where Appalled. I am confident that this matter was taken care of. I imagine rather  quickly. Good for P.F. Changs in regards to respecting their customers. I still have NOT heard from BWW. )

With all that, we were able to find a cheap place to stay late at night. Red Roof in Fort Lauderdale seemed to fit the budget. It is not the prettiest, very out dated and in need of some touching up but it was there and we were tired. It’s certainly not fancy but the rates where good and the customer Service was terrific. Chloe and I arrived around 9 pm only to wait in line for about 40 minutes due to one Check In Clerk and a broken computer system. The line was fairly long and bi lingual. Manny, the security Guard was fluent in Spanish and super helpful to Cherril? (I think that was her name). Nonetheless, even with the time of night, full lobby and a few cranky travelers, Cherril was a hoot and kept it lively. Thank goodness for good Customer Service. Manny was so kind he even helped us with our luggage. That was a nice way to end a long day of travel. Laughter is always good Medicine and a Special shout out to Manny and Cherril at the Red Roof in Ft Lauderdale.  Thanks Red Roof Staff for making a long night a fun one.

As you may guess, we had some interesting moments but 90% of our trip WAS AWESOME. I love our Realtor Denise and we just love the area we are moving too.  This was a fragment of our trip but I wanted to highlight for those of you who value customer service as much as I do.

Until next week! 

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