The Clock

An interesting week, as it turns out, on the Clock front.

After I sent out a Communique on Wednesday to the CBC and The Guardian both picked up the story.

On Wednesday afternoon I did an interview with Dave Stewart from The Guardian and they ran the story in today’s edition (not on the web, alas).

And on Thursday afternoon I met up with Paddy Moore, working for Mainstreet for a week while on sabattical from his regular gig as online news reporter at CBC Ottawa, and Paddy produced a piece for the afternoon show on Thursday (also not on the web, alas).

Both Paddy and Dave approached the story with good humour, as did Neil Blanchard, area manager for that Bank of Montreal.

The final irony, as Paddy Moore found out, was that Mr. Blanchard had fought for the clock when the BMO was renovating the branch several years ago and head office decided they were getting out of the clock business.

Catherine Hennessey says the situation isn’t over yet and they clock may live to see another day. Here’s hoping.

Setting a Good Service Standard

Oliver and I visited the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company this morning to have breakfast in their Café. While the food was excellent — we both had wonderful blueberry pancakes — the service was subpar. This struck me as odd because I know Bruce MacNaughton, the owner, places a premium on offering good service.

Because I know Bruce a little, I sent him an email relating the details of our bad service. I sent the email off at 2:18 p.m. At 2:20 p.m. — 2 minutes later — I received the following in reply:

I cannot explain the disrespect shown to your or your son, it does not sound like anyone we have working for us, but I do believe you and I will check into who the server was and ask for a non-repeat performance.
I want to apologize for such behaviour and from all of us here at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Co. we sincerely hope that you can forgive us for such an experience. We sincerely appreciate hearing from you and thank you for helping to make us a better place in which people can enjoy their food and atmosphere.

Both the speed of Bruce’s reply and what he wrote demonstrate an amazing committment to customer service, and go a long way to eliminating the sting of the bad service itself.

Many service-based businesses go off the rails when dealing with bad service: they seem to think that once bad service has happened the story is over. They think the way to react to it is either by trying to pretend it never happened, trying to explain it away, or trying to placate their customers with cheap form-letter sympathy.

My brother Johnny, who worked in food service for 15 years, once told me that customers who care enough to write you about bad service are giving you a gift by pointing out things that you can’t see yourself. If you react to that gift quickly (and here I think Bruce has set some sort of world record) and effectively, you can not only keep them as customers, but also turn a bad situation that can fester through bad word-of-mouth into an exceptional “oh wow!” situation that will work for you.

And that’s exactly what Bruce has done: he turned what could have been a note here about “crappy service at the Preserve Company” into a note about exceptional customer service.

Bravo.

Mike's

I had planned to write a long and detailed review of the new Mike’s restaurant that was built on the site formerly occupied by the Towers Restaurant on University Avenue near the Charlottetown Mall.

But the food was so horrible, the service so abysmal, the decor so artificial, that I find myself unable to conjure words appropriately sallow enough.

Stay away from Mike’s and you will remain happy. Have a meal there and you will have cold, tasteless food served by ineffectual waiters in a faux Italian blandosphere.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I only wish somebody had warned me.