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Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

Go to Hurley’s Restaurant & Bar across the street.  Or go to Celadon or Allegria in Napa.  Or Mustard’s when they re-open.  I’m sad to say, however, that the new-ish, restaurant Bottega in Yountville couldn’t care less if you were there…and they act like it. Last night, my friends were trying to give Bottega a second chance having had such a mediocre experience previously.  It was my first visit.  We enjoyed bubbles and appetizers outside by a blazing fire where the restaurant offers “no service”.  We ordered at the bar and carried our own drinks, napkins, flatware, plates outside.   That was fine as the three of us were steeped in conversation and warmed fireside on a lovely, fresh, Napa spring night.  Our mistake was going inside.  A table in the bar opened up and we wanted to try a couple of the appetizers…with service.  Have I mentioned that Bottega is not cheap…not by a long shot.

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I asked for a tawny port.  They gave me a ruby port…and told me it was a tawny port.  We ordered a salumi platter.  When we asked for details about what was on the plate (my friend has an allergy to cow meat…the kind that brings on vertigo and nausea, occasionally followed my temporary hearing loss), the server/bartender (?) said she didn’t know, identified half the plate  and went to find out the rest.  When she returned, she had mis-identified the pork and cow which my friend had already tasted.  Ugh!  Is it just me, or does it seem like too many places don’t seem to care at all about Word of Mouth, or customer service, or hospitality.

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The restaurant was busy, but not packed.  No one else working there, the host, the other bartender or server, ever spoke to us.  It is too bad.   The ambiance was warm and friendly.  The service was so bad that our conversation was hijacked into sifting through the short list of restaurants in Napa that consistently offer good (or better) service.  Frankly, for the experience, we could have had similar service, (basically self service) at Taylor’s Refresher, with a smile, great food and at much less cost!  Disney has service right.  If only Napa hospitality took the Disney Training Program.  Extraordinary, personal, friendly, helpful and non-overbearing service is, such a breath of fresh air, and hard to find in Napa… But I can’t resign myself to such mediocre hospitality where I live! For now,  I will take my friends’ offers in Sonoma & Calaveras counties to visit their wineries and remember the pleasure of good customer service.  And when I’m in Napa, I’ll visit the few places that care to have you there.
Photos courtesy of Google images.

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I don’t know if you can learn it, but I know you can’t fake it.  That’s what was missing on so many of the hospitality endeavors and even in the first attempted fix for a bad hospitality experience recently.  Heart.  You can also call it sincerity or personal touch, but ultimately, we humans are looking for a heart-felt connection in our daily experiences.  When anything goes wrong in customer service, there may be many logistics or problems with that service.  But when it comes to fixing that problem, the only way to truly win back that customer…is heart.  You can’t just do your job…you can’t phone it in.  Here’s another version of a Customer Service ~  ooops! (from 1WineDude in PA)

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We have all had an experience at a winery, restaurant or hotel where everything was technically right:  we were greeted, we were taken care of and served as expected…but were left feeling flat.  It was hard to put my finger on what was missing, but a conversation with a winery friend that makes hospitality the cornerstone of their customer experience put the word to it for me.  It is the difference between just doing your job and creating a sincere, personal and heart-felt connection.  Heart is what elevates the experience from good to great.  The kind of great that makes you send your friends and family back for the same experience.  The kind of great that makes you go back over and over as well.  Chino Yip had it at First Squeeze when he owned that restaurant on First Street in Napa.  You couldn’t help but know he cared.  Greg Cole has it at Celadon.  The folks that work at the Roger Smith Hotel have that heart in their hospitality too.  You don’t have to be the owner, you just have to have ownership in your work.

Heart.  I say it is easier said than done.  Others think it is very easy once you know that heart or sincerity or the personal touch (whatever you call it) is the answer.  I wonder how much the people who train staff in hospitality talk about heart. What has made the difference in a customer service experience in your world?

Photo courtesy google images.

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Can you repair a Hospitality Fail?  Ok, you have to try anyway.  And I must give credit to Domaine Chandon for e-mailing me an apology and an offer to give us a better tasting experience. Here’s an excerpt from Chandon:

“On behalf of the entire hospitality staff at Domaine Chandon, I would like to thank you for your very powerful feedback and extend our most sincere apology in regards to your visit to our winery. I am absolutely shocked at the lack of attention that you and your guests were paid, and you are absolutely right in calling us out on it… we always aspire to provide each of our guests with world class customer service and with your group we obviously dropped the ball. I agree with you whole 100% that even a smile or an I’ll be right with you would have had a significant impact on your 15 minute downward spiral… I cannot speak as to what happened on Sunday, but I always appreciate the feedback and I always address the issues at once.

On a lighter note, we would really appreciate if you and your group would come visit us again our compliments.”

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If you missed the terrible customer service story from last time, check out Hospitality Fail.   There are SO many wineries in northern California, and say I go this once and of course it will be …better, because they will be trying to fix the hospitality fail experience from our previous visit.  Then the next time I go (if I go) to Domaine Chandon, what then?  I’m worried about risking the same embarrassment with guests again.

Of course we will go back and let you know how that visit works out.  I do feel obligated to go and give them the opportunity to come full circle despite my hesitation.  Poor hospitality is an unfortunate by-product in areas where success, tourism and complacency collect…and sadly, Napa is sometimes one of those places.  In these bad economic times, complacency is a sure bet for failure.  The kind of customer service that makes the most difference is inexpensive and easy:  it is that personal touch that reminds your customer that they are important…beyond what they spend.  The business that can offer great customer service with a personal touch will gain my loyalty and my recommendation to all my friends and family.

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