Although the food is the most important part of any meal, poor customer service can ruin a dining experience. Over the holidays, we have been traveling. That means a new adventures in eating. When we travel I love to find new places to eat. I really like to find local places to eat that give you the rich flavor of the area. This trip has lived up to my expectations and you can look forward to more posts about the places we have eaten, but before I tell you about the great places we have found, I wanted to share more about the service we have received.
In college I worked at a bar and grill so I understand that working in food service is not always easy. I know that some customers are not always the easiest to serve. Yet, I do think high quality servers can make a dining experience. Bobby and I both love chatting with our servers. I especially like asking the server for their recommendations, especially if it is my first time at the establishment or if I am having difficulty deciding between multiple entrees. However, nothing can ruin a dining experience as a poor server nd poor customer service.
On this trip, we drove from Missouri to Illinois for Christmas with Bobby’s family. From there we drove to Florida. Since we were driving, we made several stops and the experiences gave me the idea for this blog . . .
On the first night, we stopped in southern Illinois. Having had a holiday meal earlier in the day and arriving at the hotel about 9pm, we thought we would just order a pizza and eat it in the room. When I arrived at the hotel and was checking in, I asked the hotel clerk what she would recommend. She was very helpful. She kindly asked what type of pizza we preferred then made two recommendations. Each place having very different specialities. Bobby, Kassie and I discussed our options and ordered. The clerk’s recommendations were spot on and we enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing meal in the hotel.
Along the way, we have had very similar experiences. As you might have imagined, there was a couple experiences that made me sit back and reflect on the importance of customer service. And actually the two that come to my mind, both came on the second day of traveling. It was a long day on the road. We drove from southern Illinois to Valdosta, Georgia. In an attempt to make good time, we decided to stop at a fast food restaurant so that we could get out and stretch but not lose too much travel time. It was after the lunch rush. Although there were several families dining, there was no one at the counter as we stepped up to order. Kassie ordered first. She was quickly told that they did not serve her selection any more even though it was on their menu board. That should have been a sign . . . The food ended up being rather poor quality. When I asked if they had iced tea, I was told that they only served soda. Not being a soda drinker, again I was disappointed, but decided I needed to drink something. As we sat there, we decided it wasn’t just us. When a large family came in and asked for a table to be wiped off so they could sit together, the workers seemed almost out off. We finished our meal and left quickly rather disappointed in our lunch choice.
Our lunch experience was quickly outdone by our evening stop . . . After almost twelve hours on the road and our poor lunch experience what else could happen, right?? Well, lunch held nothing to our lunch . . . After stopping in one town to find all restaurants closed, we pulled off at the next Georgia town to find several fast food restaurants (I was hoping to get out of the car for a sit down meal). When the ones we wanted to eat at were again closed, or shut down, we went to an Arby’s that was in a local truck stop. It wasn’t my ideal dinner stop but again we had about two hours to drive so I gave in as I was getting tired . . . I should have held out but then this article would never have been written. It was late so very few people were in the restaurant. We had only one person in front of us in line. We quickly made our selections and exchanged some laughter with the girl at the counter. She handed us our glasses so we could fill them while our meal was prepared. I drink a lot of iced tea and so was looking forward to having a glass of tea. It wasn’t like me not to have tea with lunch and it had been a long day on the road. I stepped over to the tea dispenser and began to fill my glass . . . The liquid that fills my glass is just a shade darker than water. Basically the tea was empty and all I had was a glass of melted ice water with a splash of tea. Knowing that many restaurants have multiple tea dispensers, I turned to a worker who was next to the drink dispenser and asked if they had another container of tea. The worker says, “I’m sorry we are only allowed to put out so much tea”. I tried to be understanding then explained that the dispenser was empty and I was hoping she could fill my glass from another container. The young lady gave me a blank stare then shrugged her shoulders, turned her back and walked away. I was left standing with a glass of ice water!
To say the least, this was by far the most disappointing day of food experiences. I will be back soon to share more about the great food finds we did find along the way on our Florida excursion…