Customer Service Fail!! Customer Service Lessons are Everywhere!! – Part 1

One of the strategic and key things that I push and emphasise constantly with The Ultimate Patient Experience is that it is and needs to be an entire and complete system.

Saying that you do customer service, or that you prioritise customer service within your business is absolutely useless if for one reason or another there are gaping holes in your process, or service defects so noticeable that they undo and negate any positive experiences you are trying to impart to your clients, patients and customers at other points during their contact with your business.

Let me give you two examples. One I experienced very recently, last week in fact, in regional N.S.W., and the other two years ago in Arizona.

Last Thursday just gone, my wife and I travelled by car to a holiday destination some three hours out of Sydney. Associated with this venue is an overseas Celebrity Chef name branded “Two Hatted” Restaurant. We were excited and looking forward to these two nights of fine dining that we had advance booked, especially as the fare was predominantly seafood, our favourite.


Our first impressions of the restaurant, upon our arrival, was that the restaurant lacked the ambiance that we had, I guess, expected due to its celebrity status. The restaurant, attached to a motel, seemed to more have a more of a “motel feel” about it, rather than a fine-dining aura.

Upon arrival for, as I said, our pre-booked reservation, we were informed that only a wall seat was available, and if we cared to have a drink at the bar, that a better table would be available shortly. During our fifteen minutes seated at the end of the bar, we sat thirsty, and watched as three staff chatted amongst themselves. At no time were we asked if we would like a beverage. Strangely though, during our wait, we were however handed menus and a wine list by the restaurant greeter, which we graciously placed to one side.

When our table was ready we were escorted to a table near the back of the restaurant that was right beside the sliding door leading to the restrooms. Fortunately, a short time later, a window table was vacated and upon asking, our waiter was able to move us there.

Lessons so far:

  1. Patrons who reserve tables in advance should not be kept waiting for their table.
  2. If you have to put someone at a bar, get them a drink quickly. Patrons won’t mind the wait if they’re well watered!
  3. Make sure that the table you take them to is not just any old table.

Our waiter for the night, though pleasant and friendly, really was not prepared to answer questions on the differences between the three types of oysters available for diners this night. Sadly, this was the first of several indications to us that he was truly out of his depth.

The next major fail that we endured came when the food started to appear on the table before the wine had arrived. Sadly, we needed to ask three separate wait staff about this before we were let know that that wine we had ordered was actually not even in stock!!


Finally, the evening was I guess, upset by the failure of wait staff to clear away plates and glasses from our table in a prompt and courteous manner.


  1. If you’re out to make big claims, it’s best to make sure that you’re team are able to deliver. The team needs to be knowledgeable on all and everything that you have to offer.
  2. Know your stock. Have systems in place to ensure that when something runs out, the process does not make your team members look stupid.
  3. Make sure you have enough team members on board, and that they each know all of their roles completely, so that all processes in your business are covered.
  4. If there is a glaring defect, then apologise as it becomes apparent. Don’t ignore it as if it didn’t happen, hoping that your customer never noticed. Better to apologise and let them say that they “hadn’t noticed”, rather than the opposite.

So what happened on the following night, I hear you ask?

Well, we decided not to even look at the dessert menu this night, such was our level of disappointment. And the following morning we cancelled our booking for the next night, and ended up eating elsewhere, away from the lodgings at a nearby town. Sadly, this seems to have been a recent common sentiment for a number of patrons of that restaurant, gathering from our discussions in the local towns on the next day.

So what was really needed here?

For a start, the floor needed a stronger leader. Someone to steer staff members around and oversee all operations. There was nobody captaining the ship!

Secondly, staff needed clear guidelines and job descriptions as to their exact roles and duties in meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Nobody on the team seemed to have a clue as to how to WOW!! their  patrons.

Finally, there appeared to be no systems. No process or thought out process as to what makes up or constitutes The Ultimate Dining Experience for their customers. You see, if you, as a business owner don’t know what your customers expect, how can you ever deliver World Class Customer Service?

This restaurant was really doing a disservice to the Chef’s name attached to it. I’m really hoping that the service, or the experience we received, was not a true to life example of what passes for appropriate in his establishments.

Sadly, as mentioned, it appears that our night was not a one-off experience unique to us, based on our sharing around the places that we visited the next day.

So what lessons are there for a Dental Office to learn from this whole adventure?

Well, there are several!

  1. Systems. Your team needs systems and clear written job descriptions and guidelines.
  2. Process. Know your Customer Experience Cycle(s). Know them inside out. Know every nook and cranny of those cycles.
  3. Be prepared for all contingencies at every stage in your Customer Experience Cycle(s).
  4. Understand the stages, every stage, that your customer can and will experience in your business. Know what constitutes unacceptable and acceptable at each and every stage.
  5. Identify where and what can be done at each and every stage to exceed the customers’ expectations. Similarly, know when there is an opportunity to go “Above and Beyond” for your customers.

Touching briefly on the second restaurant encounter from two years ago in Arizona, I’d just like to say that at this restaurant, the wait staff continually sought feedback from us, the diners. Because of this, we were able to leave a constructive appraisal of our “different” dining out experience, although again, we wished we really didn’t have to. Interestingly, we were surprised at the extent of the Service Recovery we received on that night. [The bill was waived!!]

However, the fact that the Arizona restaurant was able to identify, and respond immediately…well hats off to them.

Really though, it would have been better on this night, if the experience had been better in the first place.

I really hope, for the sake of the Celebrity Chef in regional N.S.W., that he can turn the ship around. It’s sad when this sort of thing happens.

It’s even sadder when the owners and shareholders really don’t seem to care.


There are many straight forward and easy to implement  protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build system I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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