Monday, 12 January 2009

January's Business Bloop

We thought we would have to wait till the end of January before making our first award. However we are confident that this story will not be beaten and are awarding January’s Business Bloop of the Month to the Manor Restaurant, Waddeson Manor near Aylesbury.

This is described as offering fine dining and some of the best Rothschild wines amid the splendour of a 19th century stately home. However when the Fletcher family went for a treat they were disappointed with their meal. Marilyn Fletcher wrote to complain about poor food and slow service that had cost £127 for four. She described the food as “not much better than a school dinner”. She was astonished by the reply.

Simon Offen, the catering manager sent her an e-mail to say that he disputed her version of events after he had “watched and listened with interest to the video recording of her table”. Mrs. Fletcher may or may not be the customer from hell but she was understandably concerned that the meal had been recorded on CCTV and said that her family found it “disturbing” and felt “outrage at the invasion of our privacy”.

Now there is plenty of research on customer complaints and their consequences if not handled effectively. A satisfied customer is likely to tell no more than five people but dissatisfied customer will tell 10 or 12. Furthermore only around 1 in 10 dissatisfied customers will tell the service/product provider of their dissatisfaction. Also a complaint that is handled effectively will invariably turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied customer and advocate of your service/product. Finally, when it comes to judging the value of a service or product, extensive research has established that this is “whatever the customer perceives it to be”.

We do not know whether or not Mr. Offen is aware of any of this. However by using the CCTV and telling Mrs. Fletcher that “It is quite clear that whatever we do you will not be happy with us” and alleging her attitude was tainted by “a vindictiveness which belies the spirit of Christmas”, he appears to have provoked her to express her dissatisfaction to rather more than 12 people. We read the story in this weekend’s Sunday Telegraph which means she has now told over 635,000, the circulation of the Sunday Telegraph!

This is quite an achievement, a 52m% increase on the norm! This comes just after Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain, warned that 50,000 jobs could be lost this year as a result of the recession and poor service would be responsible for some of them. “Poor value for money and poor service costs jobs and will cost more jobs in a recession," he said.

So we have no hesitation in awarding January’s Business Bloop Award to Simon Offen and Waddesdon Manor, with our gratitude for the lesson we can all learn from this.

Business Bloop blog is brought to you by Steve Goodman & Tony Ericson of ChangeWORLD. For more and less serious information and comment go to our Exceeding Expectations & You're having laugh .... seriously? blogs and the ChangeWORLD website

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