A sorry tale about crayfish and salmon

A meal of crawdads, Spring Break in New Orleans

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Have you ever got excited about a purchase and then been disappointed by the delivery of the goods or service?

A little while ago on one of my now infrequent visits to the Big City I purchased on the fly a lunch from a sandwich bar in a mainline station. I was excited by the prospect of my crayfish and salmon bap which I had spotted in the display cabinet. I duly purchased it and requested a jam doughnut too (I know, but I intended compensating with extra exercise) and scurried to get on my train.

When I opened my food bag I found that I had been given a blueberry muffin instead of my doughnut, and when I checked my change more carefully I found I had paid for it too. That was despite the counter assistant having repeated after me “jam doughnut” when I requested it.

Anyway, I had the crayfish and salmon bap to eat. It was quite disgusting. It must have been sitting in the cabinet for hours. The bread was so soggy it put me off the very idea of the rest of it, the contents were rather icy and the whole thing was a complete disaster in terms of my lunch. I felt very let down.

In business, sometimes we can be very anxious to close a deal. What is important is not to promise more than we can deliver, and at the same time provide the very best we can, going the extra mile. By doing more than is expected of us we can stand out from the crowd. What we must not do is offer more than is expected of us and fail to deliver, because we stand and fall by our reputations.

A crayfish and salmon bap would have been more than I expected, thinking as I had been in terms of cheese and tomato. The outcome left me wishing I had stuck to a safe option, which is a pity as I enjoy helping businesses deliver much more than the safe option.

Actually the blueberry muffin was very nice, but it was not what I ordered.

Have you had high expectations from one of your providers and suppliers and felt let down by the delivery? You and I have to avoid delivering our equivalent of my seafood lunch, don’t we?

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2 Responses to A sorry tale about crayfish and salmon

  1. Lesleywriter says:

    Having taught customer service to the retail industry for many years I know exactly what you mean! Getting it right is actually easy and gives the person providing the service a feeling of satisfaction and improves their overall ‘feel-good-factor’.

    Part of the problem was obviously with the owner/manager of the outlet who, no doubt, feels that wastage must be avoided and has a very short term view of their profitability. If the staff were trained to check produce for freshness and actively remove or warn purchasers if things are likely to be past their best, then think how much the reputation of that outlet would improve. Ethical behaviour always gets people coming back.

    The blueberry muffin was a silly mistake that compounded the poor quality of your sandwich – but, again, with the right process in place, that could have been avoided.

    Too many businesses don’t have a system for checking and delivering good service. It’s often left to the person at the point of delivery and, if it’s not their business, some of them simply don’t care enough to bother.

    As small business owners, most of us make more effort – or our reputation (and bank balance) suffers!

  2. Jon says:

    Lesley, I emailed the company through their website, but have had no response though it would now be about a month since the incident. Customer service does not seem to be on their horizon.

    Perhaps in a railway station they think they can rely on a high turnover of first-time customers and don’t care whether they ever come back. I would have thought that repeat customers could be a significant part of their business, but they don’t encourage them.

    Of course counter staff on the minimum wage have less incentive to help the management with quality control if their main task is just to be there. It is certainly a management failure which could prove costly when word gets around. Then, as you say, their reputation and bank balance will suffer. Even in fast food retail personal attention to detail counts. Thank you.

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