I know. After reading some of my rants, you’re thinking, “Right. He’s not one to complain. Sure.” But I recently had something happen that I didn’t run to the blog and whine about. I wanted to see how it played out. Then I’d either have fodder for a righteous rant or a tale of happiness. Here’s the tale. Sorry to disappoint those wanting a rant.
Back on the 1st I treated my oldest and her husband to their first anniversary dinner at Ruth’s Chris here in town. The company was lovely, but the service was woefully lacking and the quality of the meat was nothing like I had experienced during prior visits to the same chain in other locales.
I let the manager know our server was inattentive during our visit. He made apologies and obviously had some sort of conversation with the young man before our dessert course. The kid was making all attempts to make amends during dessert, but still couldn’t get things right. Who wants decaf Irish coffee? That’s what he made and that’s just dumb.
The Ruth’s Chris web site has a nice little feedback feature. I let a few days pass, just to cool off a little. The form has a date/time/location portion and a place for your comment. I left all the info and a brief note about the service with specifics as to what I felt was lacking: uncleared dishes, unfilled drinks, having to flag down busboys for refills, the screwed up dessert, and the fact that the meat just didn’t seem up to RC’s par. It probably didn’t hurt that I threw in “ramekin” just so they knew I know a little about the culinary experience. After spending $80 per person for dinner, you can see I was slightly disappointed.
I intentionally left out the part about how the waiter paid much more attention to the party of 10 far across the room. Maybe he thought the large party would tip better. He didn’t know my propensity for generosity when dining. Maybe he felt an ethnic bond with the other party. I don’t know. Like I said, I didn’t mention that part in the web form.
The point of this little tale is that Ruth’s Chris Steak House is a class act when it comes to handling this type of situation. I got a letter in the mail today. It was a heart-felt apology for the situation. They gave me names and numbers of people to contact if I had wanted to discuss further or to contact prior to my next visit. They pin-pointed the server by name (I didn’t. They obviously took the time to cross reference my time/date/etc.) and assured me that the situation had been discussed with the young man.
Knowing how a restaurant normally works, I left a tip that just barely covered the bartender and the busboy without leaving much for the young man. I hope the other table covered the spread.
He probably thought, “See, I knew they weren’t going to tip. I’m glad I pegged them.” Unfortunately, he didn’t peg me. I regularly leave at least 20% for adequate service. I am not afraid to leave more if served well. I’m even the guy who will call the manager over to tell them when things went well. We didn’t ask for anything unusual or off the menu either. We just expected butter with our bread and drink refills. You know, attention to detail. Hell, I even wore a tie for cheese sake.
So what’s the incentive to return to Ruth’s Chris? Two reasons. Their prompt, sincere letter and the $200 certificate. Don’t get me wrong. The “money” is nice, but the letter and fact they actually responded made the difference. Beyond good service and food, that’s all a restaurant patron really wants. That’s all any customer really wants…to be heard; to know that your voice made a difference.
Thank you Ruth’s Chris for listening and responding.