The Great Product/Bad Service Ticking Time Bomb…..

I love steak, and even as I flirt with the idea of a vegetarian lifestyle, I can only rationalize at this point making a reduction in my beef intake, not a total elimination from my diet. It is befitting that my recent experience at Shula’s Steakhouse serves as the feature of my commentary.

I must say upfront that the quality of their beef is exceptional having eaten at many of the famous steakhouses across the country. The problem is the rest of the experience. It doesn’t matter if you dine in or take-out every time I visit my local Shula’s there is a problem. It got me thinking, at what point does how great a product is, no longer out way the rest of your feelings about the experience?

Over the past three years, I have dealt with bad servers, slow service, over-cooked side items, and bad managers, but the steak is always perfect. But, we just can’t take it anymore. This time our to-go order messed up, and when I mean messed up, I’m talking about half of the order never being rung up in the kitchen so after arriving to pick it up, we were told it would take almost another thirty minutes to get the order together. The manager agreed to comp the meal, but later after realizing the size of the order, he went back on his word and made us pay for salads and desserts. But Cory, why are you complaining you got free steaks?

In my opinion, experiences provide clarity for future decisions, and I think it’s important for companies to realize that a superior product alone won’t save the day in today’s competitive marketplace.

It is becoming incredibly harder to be considered a consumers favorite or go-to anything today. Harris Interactive in a study found that 88% of customers prefer doing business with a company that offers quality customer service over a company that has the latest and most innovative products.

How can anyone continue to do business with a company where you have to say, “the product is great, but…….”

Just to be clear there is a difference between a one-off situation and a systemic breakdown of customer service, leadership, and process.

At this restaurant something is broken, I am not sure if it’s an inability to get talent because of wages, lack of mission, lack of leadership, or a culture where delivering a great experience is a “like to” and not a “must do.”

Aside from some viral incident, most businesses don’t go out of business overnight, many times it’s a much slower progression, and in the restaurant business, you go from having a full house to wondering where the customers went.

So, I have to declare my Shula dinners (at least the one by my house) over. The bad service and then management who welch on their word just won’t fly anymore especially when Morton’s 15 minutes away is thrilled to have my business, knows my name, and is always glad I came (wait that’s the Cheers theme song)

As I often say is my keynote presentation The Presence Principle, “those who hate change, will hate irrelevance a lot more.”