Last month Jayne and I attended a function where we were introduced to a nice couple who live in our area. The discussion was very friendly, and we soon started talking about some of our favourite dining out experiences.

The couple gave us a glowing recommendation for a local restaurant that we had yet to try, and so we decided to go there for dinner on this recommendation.

Sadly, our experience fell way short of the recommendation.

Here’s what happened…

The restaurant was full when we arrived at our booked time, so we were asked to stand out in the street for five minutes until a table was vacated and prepared for us.

The owner of the restaurant took our food order ten minutes after seating us.

We began by telling him that we were locals, and that we had come because his restaurant had been highly recommended to us.

Our order was simple. Some papadums to start with, some roti and naan breads, and three main course dishes and rice. And a bottle of sparkling mineral water for our designated driver.

Thirty minutes after placing our order all we had received was a carafe of warm tap water. No papadums, and no sparkling water. At this time half the restaurant had finished their meals and had gone.

After another fifteen minutes the restaurant was down to only one other table still waiting on their food, our table, and a table of two who had walked in at about fifteen minutes ago.

And still at this time we were still waiting for food, though the papadums and the sparkling water that we had had to beg for had been brought out to us. We were ravenous and devoured the papadums the moment they hit the table.

You won’t believe what happened next….

Three minutes later, the table of two people that had recently arrived received their entrees, even though our table hadn’t received any of our food order.

When we pointed this out to our waitress, she replied:

“That’s because theirs is an entrée order.”

[I’m not sure what the relevance of that statement had to do with anything… the fact was that our table of three people were feeling very hungry….]

Finally, our food arrived another five minutes after that which was more than an hour after we had first arrived.

And the food wasn’t worth waiting for….

Our two mild curries were definitely on the medium side rather than mild. Although the fish was tender it was drowned out by the curry powder used.

To add to this…

The atmosphere in the restaurant was “different”. The Indian music playing was definitely too loud, and when it was turned down, there was immediately more conversation in the dining room.

But at 8:15pm the music stopped playing, and all we could then hear was a female voice and a male voice arguing ferociously and continuously in the kitchen.

Because of this lousy experience, and a total lack of apology or explanation about the poor service from anyone working in the restaurant, we invoked the “no dessert” rule, paid our bill, and left.

I was so disappointed…

The evening was very disappointing.

There seemed to be a procession of take-away orders being brought through the restaurant to patrons waiting outside who had ordered them.

I’m not sure when these people placed their orders for take-away …. maybe that’s what I should have done because the wait for the take-away couldn’t have been any longer than the time that we had to wait for our in-restaurant dining “experience”.

And so, because of all this….

Because of my frustration with how poorly our evening unfolded, I decided to leave the restaurant a one-star Google review that night when I arrived home.

Now, it’s not my nature to leave scathing reviews, but I felt that our patronage at this restaurant was so blatantly taken for granted.

I felt ignored.

Interestingly, because the booking was made by Jayne in her name, she received multiple phone calls from the female owner and also from the male owner over the following two days wanting to discuss the review and try to make amends.

On the second day after our visit to this restaurant I phoned the restaurant and spoke to the female owner, who was very apologetic.

Later, her husband, who had taken our order, phoned me and expressed his apologies. He said he wanted us to give his restaurant another chance to make amends.

But then he said he wanted me to remove my review from Google.

I told him that I felt that this would basically discount my experience that we endured to being “as if it didn’t even happen”.

I told him that I didn’t think this was a fair result considering how badly we were ignored and taken for granted.

That’s not the purpose of Google Reviews

The reason people leave Google Reviews is so that businesses feel praise when they do something well, but also so that businesses do feel the disappointment of customers who experience a sub-par level of service.

The manipulative removal of negative reviews as if those experiences never happened leads to a false representation of those businesses.

And I don’t believe that’s a fair result for the customers who had to endure those poor experiences.

And it’s certainly not fair on new customers for a business to be deceptively slanting the needle away from the truth of events that really did happen.

Businesses need to have systems and protocols in place to make good when things go wrong, at the time they go wrong.

In this instance with our sub-standard dining “experience”, the owner and the wait staff needed to be on top of what was going on in the restaurant and be apologising and trying to make good for any poor experiences their diners may have been having.

Ignoring the room and taking customers for granted does need to be called out and a Google Review describing this does need to stand as a lesson for the business to learn from.

It can’t be and should not be deleted as if it never even happened…

Customers and patrons understand that there are times when things don’t go to plan at businesses they deal with.

But it is how those businesses respond at the time that makes the great businesses stand out from the ordinary.

Sure there will be times when customers will be disappointed with service defects that detract from their experiences and from their expectations.

Great businesses will seamlessly swing into what we call SERVICE RECOVERY MODE so proficiently that the customers, though initially disappointed, will be amazed at how those businesses go OVER AND ABOVE to make things right.

In your business…

In your business, and in your dental practice, are your service recovery processes creating experiences for your clients, customers and patients that are better for them than if the service defect had never occurred in the first place?


Dr. David Moffet BDS FPFA CSP is a certified CX Experience coach. David works with his wife Jayne Bandy to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how David and Jayne can help your business