Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yours is a very bad restaurant

For the past few days a bird (a robin?) has been trying to enter our house. He/she stubbornly drums our dining room window – thump, thump, thump – with no sign of letting up. With time it will tire, fall to the ground or realize the window is a window.

Listening to and watching my confused feathered friend was a mirror-gazing experience. The other night I had a few beers with friends at a local establishment, which will maintain its anonymity. Every town has a similar place: a central, convenient, somewhat hip, and seemingly appetizing restaurant and/or bar. Status quo at the unnamed joint is an irritable combination of apathetic and rude service, high prices and bland eats, enveloped in a fog of pomposity (as if we, the patrons, are doing the restaurant a favor). The place stinks.

After emptying my wallet and mistreating my palette, I wasted a few minutes of my wife’s time, lambasting the establishment. This is your sixth of seventh time there … if it’s so bad, why do you continue to go? she asked. Because it’s central, convenient, kinda hip, and I keep hoping it will get better, I weakly replied, only now realizing that my actions are analogous to the aforementioned bird. Well, why don’t you complain to the manager?

Which reminded me of a cool story (with thanks to The Great Tim Sanders for sharing this with me), an hysterical episode that amplifies the value of customer service, the power of an individual voice, and the wonderfully viral nature of the Internet.

Here’s a synopsis:

Two IT consultants tried to check in to a room at the Doubletree Hotel in Houston. Though they had pre-booked and paid for their room, they were denied accommodations. And – here’s where it gets good – there were treated like cockroaches by Night Clerk Mike. Rather than ferreting away their frustrations (read: my behavior), they did what any good, well-paid consultant would do: They created a PowerPoint presentation, entitled Yours is a Very Bad Hotel, lamenting the poor service and lampooning Night Clerk Mike. After sending it to a handful of friends (along with the hotel), word spread. Quickly. An estimated – how do they estimate this stuff? – one-million plus copies of the PowerPoint exchanged hands. Ouch.

Alas, the bird outside our dining room has outsmarted me and given up. Hopefully I’ve learned a thing or two.

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