client service, customer satisfaction, inspiring, Leadership

Would You Send the Steak Back?

shallow focus photography of meat dish and leaves
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on

I have been reflecting on various buying experiences with a common theme. When service is not quite right, I don’t mention it. Even if asked directly, I sometimes gloss over the “bad” experience.

It struck me when I was getting my oil changed at our regular car dealer. It seemed like a typical experience. The dealer was great at check in. I went and sat in the comfortable waiting room and worked online. But as time passed, I realized I had been forgotten. I asked one of the attendants and magically my car was instantly ready. It had been ready for some time I gathered. The attendant urgently gave me the keys and said, “Tony already left for the day but we live and die by these client surveys and Tony would really appreciate it if you could give him a 10, if you’re happy.” Big nudge with a smile.

But I wasn’t happy. I was lost in shift transition perhaps. I should have left likely an hour ago.

I smiled, took the key, but I did not take the survey. I likely should have and given Tony a big fat zero. But while my experience (longer wait than typical) wasn’t ideal, I wasn’t sure what poor Tony might have had to deal with that day.

Maybe his boss loaded up with work? Maybe he had to leave for a sick kid? Maybe a coworker was supposed to wrap up for him?

And that’s when this thought (this blog) popped into my head.

How many times as consumers do we not speak up when something goes wrong? How many times do we let things slide? Or how badly does the steak have to be burnt to send it back?

This theme became the topic at dinner one night with old friends. They agreed that they don’t always give such unpleasant feedback. But why? Perhaps you don’t send it back because you are invested in the decision? Or maybe its about being too nice and avoiding conflict? Or in my case with the oil change, a little empathy gives others leeway? And while any of these can be reasons, the truth is that it doesn’t help the business or Tony get better. It doesn’t help them succeed.

Funny enough. As we discussed, dinner arrived. At least, everyone’s dinner except mine. The waitress kindly explained, “the special oven used to cook your meal is having issues but it will be here shortly.”

I smiled heavily at everyone at our table and replied, “no problem.” The waitress, however, recognized the mistake and brought desserts for free.

A bit of karma but it left me thinking that at the heart of excellent client service and delivery has to be a deep dive into the client’s experience. When the steak is sent back, that’s easy. It’s much more difficult to learn from those customers that are one step away from sending the steak back.

I would love to #crowdsource and know, “would you send the steak back?” And more importantly, how do you ascertain your client’s experience beyond, ” On a scale of 1 to 10, would you recommend…”

Please subscribe to my #inspiringbold if you like this blog. Much appreciated





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s