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Why Australian restaurants should take inspiration from overseas.

Why Australian restaurants should take inspiration from overseas.

Posted in Customer Service by Gareth on April 04, 2013

Australia is young. Perth is even younger. The restaurant scene is inexperienced. Why not take inspiration from overseas who have been doing it well for hundreds of years?

Begs the question doesn’t it?

This is my first hand account of two birthday dinner outings, a week apart 14,000kms from each other.

Course one. WAs best, served poorly with a sharp lasting sting at the end.

It’s a Saturday night drinks and dinner at one of the newest, largest venues in the Perth CBD. Drinks; expensive. Food; spot on. Service; disaster. Nothing short of the usual Saturday night excursion.

We had a group of 14, 12 of whom were to be fed. We pondered the menu for quite some time, unsure of what to order to satisfy a group of our size. The waitress suggested that she prepare us a menu for $35/head. Great idea we thought! Plenty of great food came out and we demolished all that was there. No complaints.

The issues came when we asked for the bill. The bill came and excluding our drinks worked out at $45/head. Simple typo we thought so we queried with our waitress. Many excuses later and no result, we asked to speak to the manager.

This is where it starts to go wrong (take notes customer facing staff!) as without even as much as a question, the manager launched straight into a defence. “Well if you were on a budget, you shouldn’t have come here” came out first. I’ve never been so offended in a restaurant in all my life!

Further snark comments were made all to wish we defended as we were clearly told $35/head and that’s what we were expecting. A heated conversation resulted in a minor amendment to the bill (which indeed was for something we didn’t even order) and a last comment by yours truly “fine, we’ll pay the bill and complain to management on Monday”

One week on, we’ve consumed three managers time and we’re yet to receive an actual resolve to our complaint. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for part two.

The moral of the story here is the customer was right and the manager was wrong. Instead of taking the time to listen and understand our reason for complaint, this manager launched into a defensive, antagonistic position offering no form of resolve. These actions which could have been so easily avoided, have had serious consequences for the restaurant thanks to the power of 14 social media savvy individuals.

Course two. French inspired Dutch, served exceptionally well with a beautiful, long lasting finish.

I happened to be in Amsterdam for my actual birthday and was treated to an exceptional dinner at a small family run French inspired Dutch restaurant. It’s packed and its Monday night.

When I made the booking the day before, I was asked if I had any special requests. I pondered for a moment to consider the appropriateness before saying “yes, it’s my Birthday”.

Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by a bubbly, friendly maîtres, who asked whose Birthday it was. “Mine, Mine” I claimed to which I received a hand gesture pointing to the best table in the restaurant which was decorated in balloons, party wear and candles. Wow!

We sat down and I asked my partner if this was her doing. An unsurprising, “don’t be silly” came next along with absolute astonishment about the effort they had gone to for my birthday.

Next came a little present for both of us! A gift box with a special appetizer inside. Could this get any better?! Food, wine, service all absolutely spot on.

Then came desert (keep in mind this is a quaint, neighbourhood style restaurant.)

The music was cranked (Happy Birthday of course), staff and patrons started clapping and a cake equipped with nothing short of a firework came promptly towards our table. OMG! Then while being blinded by the firework candle, a waitress armed with a camera for a photo. Shameless Facebook promo perhaps? No, nothing short of an actual printed photo (not even a polaroid!) landed in my hot little hands.

What a performance! Completely astonished we were. I felt like I was having dinner at home and I loved it!

I couldn’t thank the waitresses enough for such a hospitable and fantastic birthday experience. Even if the food was awful (which it was completely the opposite), it would have still been an amazing evening.

So whats in it for them you ask? Well (Perth CBD restaurant take note!)

  1. A generous tip
  2. Huge thank you to all the staff
  3. Email testimonial
  4. Facebook wall post
  5. 5 star review on local restaurant directory

And that’s why they have a #4 ranking on Tripadvisor!

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