The experience I had over the long weekend involved a destination, a product, some “service” and two very unhappy customers. A friend and I visited Entertainment Quarter, a destination in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs close to Centennial Park and the SCG. We’re best friends; conversation’s always flowing and entertaining – whatever we choose to do when we’re together needs not steal the show. We’re happy with satisfactory service. It was raining which set the perfect scene for afternoon lemon meringue pie and coffee – holding the cream (I don’t do cream). We found an Italian dessert place. Perfect. Despite being sheltered by a makeshift tarp, the tables and chairs outside were wet. Our opting to sit outside, given Sydney’s humidity and a lack of air conditioning inside, was neither voluntarily noticed nor a reason for any of the staff to come outside to wipe down a table for us. We trawled the area and located the driest option. Before committing to our menu choices and ‘enjoying’ our experience, we elected for a quick restroom visit. “Excuse me Sir, where will I find your restrooms?” I asked politely, foolishly expecting a helpful response. Without looking up from the coffee he was pouring (and spilling onto the saucer), he grunted “left then left again”. Admittedly and in that beautiful thing we call hindsight, we should have left at this point. My friend and I searched the complex (the entire Entertainment Quarter as the venue was restroom-less) for the restrooms, reverting to public signage for directions seeing “left and left again” was both vague and inaccurate. On our return, we found our table, sat down and my friend went to the counter to order. She’s been my friend for 15 years and is very much aware of my distaste for cream. She ordered my ‘lemon meringue pie NO cream’ and strawberry crepes for herself with accompanying coffees. She also asked that, seeing there was no one else around and we were outdoors, if she could smoke. It wasn’t a ridiculous question given the tarp next to ours, belonging to the same business for savoury meals, was full of smokers. “Oh no, it’s not allowed”. “But your patrons under that shelter are smoking?”. “They’re not allowed”. Silly us. Of course we should have known…
My friend came and sat with me, cigarette-less, and casually factually relayed the conversation that transpired. Their credit card facilities were also not working – so the barista accused my card. Laughing it off and citing “it can’t actually get any worse”, my friend’s coffee came out. All over her saucer. No napkin, no apology. Having waited a minute or two for the waiter to return with a napkin seeing there were only two other patrons (probably also persevering with their dessert experience) to serve and we had a saucer with coffee all over it, my friend walked to the bar to get herself a napkin. She returned, sat back down, tidied up the waitperson’s mess and sipped her coffee which she then – very discretely - spat back out. Admittedly, we’re spoilt when it comes to coffee. We live close to the city where coffee culture is hip and happening and we’re surrounded by the likes of Surry Hills, Newtown and Alexandria. We do on the odd occasion though revert to instant coffee when we’re desperate. This coffee was bad.
Our desserts came. My lemon meringue pie was – needless to say – accompanied bycream and my friend’s strawberry crepes were empty with a drizzle of jam on the top. I, for the first time this experience, had had enough. I understood it was a public holiday and those forced to work in a café, in the rain, on a public holiday after a night out in Sydney were probably going to be less enthused than any other day. I also didn’t need anything more than what we ordered seeing the objective of the outing was to spend time with a friend - but this was ridiculous.
Wet tables. Inaccurate restroom directions. Attitude. Double standards. Coffee all over saucer. Inoperative credit card facilities. Unhelpful. Poor coffee-making skills. Cream on plate.
The experience you provide your customers is just as important, if not more important, than your product itself. There are reasons Apple and Haighs are where they are. Think about the experience you’re giving people. Invest in it. Otherwise you run that almost guaranteed risk of negative word-of-mouth – or worse – being blogged about. Thank you, Dolcetto, for providing a great example.
- Sofia Margelis
- She runs an international
- marketing consultancy firm
- that provides small businesses with a marketing
- consultant and in-house team of creative, web development and PR experts. Marketing Eye serves small
- businesses looking for marketing support and management in Atlanta,
- New York marketing company
- Sydney marketing consultants
- Melbourne marketing consultants