When everything goes wrong – customer service is your best solution!

Hospitality is something that missing in my nature. I am just an utterly wrong person to work in the hospitality business. My main problem that I don’t think that client is always right. I find small talks useless, I don’t understand a point of extreme politeness, I have a weird sense of humor.  So working in hospitality very hard task for me. I can do it, but I just can’t do it any longer.

One of the main reasons, apart great food, why people coming back at our cafe is customer service that we provide. We always talk to everyone, we become friends, we know what is going on in our regular customer’s lives, we check on their food and offering good deals on drinks, we are friendly. You can think that this is usual, but here in Cambodia, this is incredibly unusual.

Create customer service is always the key to success, doesn’t matter what business you are. I have a lot of examples from my past experience how good customer services saved situation, and today I got another one.

We run a cafe in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We have a lot of issues with this business, and buildings and general system of everything here. Electricity in this country is something out of the world. Firstly, Cambodia buying power from Vietnam, that sometimes create big power cuts. Secondly, because engineering and common sense in architecture wise doesn’t exist, we have only two plugs in the kitchen. What are two plugs for a restaurant’s kitchen?

Anyway, what did happen today was craziness. We had super busy morning, 15 orders at the same time, and to make you understand we are a very small place, 15 is our absolute maximum. At some point of cooking, one of plug decided to burn out. extension lead turned itself down because of overpowering. Two deep fat fryers and grill were way too much for one Cambodian plug, we temporary fixed the problem in the kitchen, but solution gave as a possibility to cook only one order at once. 7 orders to go, forget about food at the same time and some of the people have to wait a lot longer for their order. It was a disaster. Fact that half of the people were our regular customers, and they understood that we are extremely busy (it is only Martin, I and Rey, our kitchen hand), helped a lot, but I hate using any excuses and not providing our usual quality. It was killing me.

What I did – I said the truth. I explained to each customer what did happen, apologized ten thousand times, gave them free drinks and provided 10% discount on top. Running between tables, collecting plates, asking for more drinks, giving bills, managing change (for some of you who doesn’t know, here is two different currency at the same time), keep apologizing every time when I give the delayed order, and every time when table got free more customers were coming. Hell, it was pure hell. When we reached the moment that nothing is actually working in the kitchen, we had just managed to provide one last order and had to turn around a few people who came. We were needed to close down for a few hours, to fix all this shit.

By the time when everyone was gone, we didn’t receive any bad comments, everyone still has been happy and very understandable. One hour later we got a comment on our post on facebook, that even with all disasters that we had in the kitchen our food was delicious (thanks to Martin) and customer service was amazing (thanks to both of us).

Right now we have an electrition who changes every single plug and installing a few more, we are expecting to be open in one hour and (fingers crossed) I hope we will not have this issue ever again.

Moral of the story: Be nice and truthful to your customers. They are human beings, and if you explain everything in details, give them proper reasons and plan of actions they will not complain and possibly will even leave you some tips.

Moral of the story #2: Never do business in Cambodia.



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