Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Service Excellence?

Last week, I met two friends for a drink at a local restaurant. On the grounds of the restaurant, self-parking is not available, so I drove up the drive, and the valet attendant opened my door, gave me a ticket and I was on my way. A short while later when I went to retrieve my car, the valet was backed up five cars deep. I pointed to my car, and said I'd be happy to retrieve it if he'd give me my keys. Which he did. I gave him $2.00 for that. He ran off to park the next car and I walked to my own.

Later, I glanced at my keys and noticed the valet tag still on the ring. And then I noticed something written on the tag. And then my chin hit the floor. Scribbled on the tag was "Pice O Shit Honda." (I hate to spell piece like that but that's the way it was written, and seriously that's the least of it, isn't it?)

Surprised and amused, I called my two friends still at the restaurant and texted them a photo of the tag. They spoke to the manager who initially suspended his belief, until he saw the photo. Later, he emailed me, beside himself with apologies and embarrassment, telling me that he addressed the issue with the valet company's manager and that I had a gift certificate waiting for me at the restaurant. He said he gave my email address to the valet company manager who wanted to personally apologize, an email I have yet to receive.

What strikes me in all this is not the questionable judgement of a valet attendant, but that I can't begin to tell you the name of the valet company. It strikes me that something completely out of the restaurant's control, still reflects upon the restaurant.

It's a story I wish I could share with my father. We would break it down into different scenarios, discuss how different customers would react differently, from my befuddled amusement to what might have been someone else's outright anger. We would discuss the hazards of hurrying through your work, and we would incorporate the lessons into our own business dealings, likely ending with how careful you must be when you put your customer in the hands of others, especially when those others (vendors, contractors, what have you) were hired by you.

Anyone can take something from this story. Ultimately, I'm going to take the self-park route.


Network Geek said...

Alison, I used to work in the hotel industry and there were quite a few valets, among other service people, who worked where I did. Based on my experience with those valets, I cannot imagine where his value judgments came from regarding your car! Also, he must have been new, because someone with experience would have written "POS Honda" and had an out.

Seriously, it does point out one of the saddest things about our culture today. We're supposed to be a service-based economy, but we're so, so bad at service!

CreekHiker said...

Ditto! I always try to self park... a really hard thing to do here in LA!

Velvet Sacks said...

I agree with everything you said about bed service, and I think the valet attendant's note was rude, to say the least...but I must admit to a few giggles when I imagined your face as you realized what was written on the ticket. ;)