Monday, May 2, 2011

The Power Of Social Media and My Worst Dining Experience

I think many people out there underestimate the power of social media.

July 15th, 2009 I became a full believer that people are out there reading and listening to what random people will post on any website including mine. Some of you know the story, some of you don't.

It was a Wednesday night. A friend of mine was in town and she had an odd addiction to Buffalo Wild Wing's wings. So we went along with a couple buddies of mine. Just another Summer Wednesday evening dining out. It was by far one of my most annoying and worst dining experiences I've ever had. I used every medium possible to spread the word on my experience including message boards, facebook, twitter. I went to the company website to submit my complaint. Mailed a letter to the corporate office, called the local store trying to reach the general manager. Literally everything.

It was so bad I had every intention of either taking the place down by spreading bad word of mouth or trying to make a personal impact on getting that place to shape up.

My first step was writing a note on facebook and making it available to everybody to see. No privacy restrictions. Hoping I could reach thousands of people. Not sure it ever did but the story has a happy ending.
Here's word for word the facebook note:
Four of us went to Buffalo Wild Wings on North Rock Road on Wednesday to grab some dinner and drinks.
We arrive there at 7 pm. Order food at 7:15 pm. About 30 minutes go by and we're wondering where our food is at. The server (probably some 16 year old girl) comes up and says, "Oh I'm sorry, they lost your ticket so I had to put your food order back in."
Really? You went over to the machine and placed the order into it, which sent it over. You did not lose the ticket, you just forgot to place the order.
So we wait. Starving. 8 pm hits, no food. So I grab the assistant manager a few minutes later who is a startling image of Milton from Office Space. We tell him its been nearly 55 minutes and our food has yet to arrive and that our server "allegedly" lost our ticket. He says, "I didn't know about it, let me go check.". This is the last time he ever came by our table. So about 10 more minutes go by and finally our food comes out.
To add to the annoyance of the night, part of the order is wrong. They served us 12 of one flavor of wings instead of mixed 6 and 6 of another as we ordered. AND they forgot our fries. So she tries to take all of the wings and come back. We were not about to let her take all of them as we were hungry. Anyways, no less than a minute later, the replacement food and fries come out.......miraculously. One minute for the mess up and a near hour for the original order.
So we eat. She comes back only one more time throughout the night to check up on us. We get our tickets. I have a coupon for some free wings. She takes all of our tickets and cards. While she's running everything, she comes back and asked me if it was my coupon to which I said yes. She comes back again and says, "I'm sorry, I already ran your card and closed your ticket out. Here's your coupon, would you like to use this for later?" I just sit there in astonishment. Then she goes, "I might be able to get my manager to fix it." I just grab my ticket in total frustration.
My friends eventually talk me into telling the manager to fix it. I go to the same Assistant Manager and tell him the situation and on top of that how the night has just been a huge disaster and we have been so let down by the experience and that its been the worst. His reply, "OK, lets see if we can fix the ticket." No sorries, no apologies, just lets see if we can fix it.
So I go back to my table and sit there. Next thing I know, the server comes up. Places a five dollar bill on the table and says, "We're not sure if we can fix the ticket so here's five dollars." I just stand up in amazement and leave.
Worst. Buffalo Wild Wings Experience. Ever.
I'm determined to let everyone know. Instead of going to that place go across the street to Hooters or eat at home or eat anywhere. "
That was a long read I know. I receive many comments on that note agreeing with how bad the customer service has been. Many people ridiculing BWW on how they've been treated. It was nice to see how many people agreed with me but also unfortunate at the same time.

I wrote the note before anything else to just voice out my frustration and have the experience fresh in my mind and noted. Then I proceed to use every other medium possible. This was all done on Thursday and Friday following my experience with my friends.

Lets fast forward to Monday morning. I get a call from a random number. I usually don't answer those calls but did by random chance. Who was it? The general manager of the Wichita location for Buffalo Wild Wings.

The first thing she tells me is she randomly stumbled across my Facebook note before anything else that I submitted to their corporate office. She said she read the entire thing including the comments people left behind and was actually embarrassed by the comments. On Monday morning when she came into work, she was able to get my number off of my complaint I submitted to their corporate office.

The general manager would later tell me their policy on food is to have all orders out within 15 minutes. Any issues with orders, managers are to be notified so they can find out the reason and to make sure food is out promptly. They are also to help in serving the food and walking around greeting customers and making sure everything is alright.

We traded some thoughts back and forth. Very stimulating conversation to where we were both able to get our viewpoints out there on service and everything. She told me she was going to set up an emergency company meeting to go through with her employees all that happened. She was upset with "Milton" (yes she used that name) for not coming back to our table to apologize to us.

In the end, I finally got what I wanted from the start. An apology. A personal apology, not a typed letter with a jpeg photo of a signature. That's all.

The GM ended the phone call inviting my group of friends back in for dinner. I told her I appreciated the offer but did this all for an apology which we never received during our bad dining experience. Eventually I gave in. That same week, I would receive an apology letter from Buffalo Wild Wings including a card for free dinner for me and a group of friends.

The next week I invited a group of friends with me to go eat to see what would change. We arrive and met by greeters at the door. Sat within minutes. Greeted by our server and served us our drinks. We ordered our food, each about 12-15 wings a person. Food came out five to ten minutes later. Easily the quickest its ever been in all of our time dining there. Another person joined our party late and had his food come out in the same amount of time. Our server came by our table many times to check up on us.

The general manager happened to be there and apologized again for everything. Told us she spoke with Milton (yes, she referred to him again as Milton even though that's not his real name, we got a good laugh out of it), had some small chat, she asked us how we were doing. Nice little small talk. All went well. She told us our food was on them tonight and it was. Everything was comped, it was great.

All in all, it was honestly a good experience there that day. A total 180 from the time before. Something that should be expected of them every time. I think everybody involved in the experience learned a few good things from it all. From the restaurant standpoint, I think they learned that the customer is the first priority. Mistakes happen, we're all human. But instead of ignoring the mistake and trying to avoid any conflict like they did in the first experience, they should have confronted it head on, and apologized and do what they could to fix it. From a customer standpoint, if you receive bad service, you should stand up for what you think is right. Maybe not to certain extremes like in this case but voice it. Let it be known so it can be fixed. You spend your hard earned money on eating out. The least you can expect is being served right.

Have any of you ever had horrible over the top dining experiences?

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

that is awesome

Anonymous said...

It was our anniversary and we decided to eat a local restaurant in our hometown (not Wichita, but nearby). Our server was way too chatty - talking about her personal problems and being too close to our table. She even leaned against the chair my wool coat was draped across and got food on it from her apron! I pointed that out to her and she denied having leaned against our chair. Finally - I informed her it was our anniversary and my spouse and I wanted to simply eat and spend some time alone - could she please just refill our drinks and let us have some privacy? So instead of doing what we asked, she yells, "OH happy anniversary!" and then gets the whole staff to come sing us a song of some sort and wish us well...which was nice I suppose, but we wanted a private, intimate dinner and did NOT get what we wanted. The food was good, but since we were so unhappy with the service, we'll NEVER go back. I hope people who are servers read this and take note - give your customers space if they want it - and honestly, most customers don't give a rat's behind about YOUR problems. We don't know you. We have our own problems, you shouldn't be sharing your private issues with people eating in your restaurant!