One Simple Question

Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margh...

We ordered some food last evening from a local Italian restaurant since we were all kind of busy, wiped out, or both.  I phoned in the order which we picked up not long thereafter.  In the order was some extra food, which surprised me, but apparently it was compensation for the fact that parts of the order were messed up (Hey! When we ask for mushrooms on the pizza it’s because we want them and no one here ordered a white pizza!).Those of you in the food industry know that margins are slim enough without having to give food away. Those of you who deal with customers know that the last thing you want is someone who isn’t happy.  Both of those issues arose here and could have been avoided by instructing anyone who takes phone orders to ask one simple question:

May I read back your order?

This takes about 10-15 seconds longer on the phone, so even the busiest of places should be able to ask it without much delay in moving on to the next call.  We frequent this place a lot and while incorrect or incomplete orders aren’t the norm, they’ve happened before.  We like the person who runs it so we’re not going to take his or any employees’ heads off nor are we going to quit going, but you and I both know there are lots of folks who won’t hesitate to make a scene.  Obviously in this age of easy conversation to hundreds or thousands of followers, one angry customer can be very damaging.

If I’m running the place, I’d add a big box in the upper corner of the order form that reads “Order confirmed” and instruct the cooks not to start making it unless the box is checked on any take-out order.  Someone forgot to check it?  Call the customer – the phone number is right there.  Yes, it’s inconvenient but it’s cheaper than giving away your margin and it’s less time-consuming than will be mollifying the damage if the order is wrong.  Trust me – if I got that call I’d think well of you for calling to be sure you were giving me what I wanted.

What simple things can you be doing in your business?  What questions should you be asking that you aren’t?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

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