Thursday, 7 March 2013

10 Ways to Piss me off Before I get to your Restaurant

Inspired by Marina O'Loughlin's mini outburst on Twitter yesterday, I was thinking about how important it is for a restaurant to make a good impression on you before you even get there. It's incredibly easy to piss customers off and here are some ways restaurants can do that. Read this carefully, aspiring restaurateurs.

1. Taking a credit card number with a reservation
I know it's frustrating if you have no-shows, and if it's a particularly large party, I am totally on board with requiring a deposit, but for two people for a regular dinner, it shows a complete lack of trust in the customer. I will go to that restaurant pre-pissed off if that happens.

2. Lying about how busy you are
Tell me the restaurant is full and I'll have to take a *much* earlier/later/antisocially timed booking, for me to arrive at the restaurant which is half-empty for the duration of my visit.

3. Not putting prices on the website
I just want an idea of the price, for God's sake! If I have to ring up the restaurant and find out the prices, I feel a bit cheap and embarrassed. That information should be available on the website.

4. Ignoring prospective customers
Just because I'm not a definite customer, it doesn't mean I might be. If you ignore my email about how your disabled facilities/catering to vegetarians, I'm damn sure not going to bother giving you any customers. Same goes for not answering the phone. It's amazing that restaurants can spend so much on intricate decor and design but won't budget for a receptionist's salary.

4. Not getting a booking confirmation. When I first moved to London, I was most bemused with the practice of calling to confirm a reservation on that morning. Now, if I don't, I get nervous that I've given them the wrong number or there is no record of my reservation if they don't call. So I have to call up and confirm with them, to their bemusement, mostly.

5. Retweeting left, right and centre
I start following a restaurant I'm going to on Twitter, they flood my timeline with compliment retweets (usually exceptionally dull). It already shows a lack of imagination. Not a great start. I have griped about this countless times but I still see it happening on a daily basis.

6. 'Tables Left'
Tweeting 'tables left' as if it's some kind of rarity. Every night is such an occasion that think they have they have the right to tweet it as if it's big news. Er, you're just trying to fill tables like everyone else. It's funny how it's only restaurants who think they're important that do this.

7. Automated Switchboard Systems
If it's a big holding company like Gordon Ramsay for example, there is often a huge number of options when you call them - 'press 1 for reservations, press 2 for private dining, press 3 if want to know the name of the pig you will be eating tonight…' . Just hire a switchboard receptionist if your company is that big. No-one wants to hold on for 5 minutes just to make a booking or find out opening times.

8. Stupid rules 
Before customers even arrive. 'No cameras. No phones.' I understand dress codes and health and safety issues, but don't tell me what to do. It makes the restaurant sound overly aggressive and I might be paying a lot of money, thanks very much. Why don't you trust your customers a bit to not use flashes and switch their phones on silent.

9. Time Limits
The restaurant informs you that you only have the table for a limited amount of time. I understand why some restaurants do it, but ultimately, it's table turning and you feel that they just want to get you out of the door quickly. If you have a time limit, you're constantly thinking 'how much time do I have'? It's not like I'll sit there for four hours with a starter and a glass of water.

10. Unwilling Data Collection
Restaurants that take your contact details without asking. They might think they're being helpful, but they might not be. If you have your work contact details on your email signature, you probably don't want to be contacted about your restaurant booking on there, because you might not get the message, you might not be there or you simply don't want that creepy receptionist at your work to find out where you're going to dinner! Note to bookings teams: ask for my details!

1 comment:

  1. Just today a friend told me about a cafe she called up in Mumbai to check if they had restrooms as my friends paprents would be going there. The girl who picked up the phone, who runs the cafe, apparently burst out laughing when she heard this. They obviously didn't go there and turns out that the place didn't have a restroom in any case. That's your point no 4

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