How Fanta destroyed everything

Today, not only do I have a guest post at Al Smith Jr’s place because I C.A.R.E. I have the distinct pleasure of having Jens Berget at my place for my sporadic ghost in the post series. Jens has become a great friend and even tolerates me making fun of his Euro style bathing suit; which he is prone to show off, but that’s why we call him ‘big sexy’. You can find Jens just about any day at Slymarketing where you will always be educated and entertained. Please take the time to enjoy this post and pay him a visit as well.

Elton John was right, sorry seems to be the hardest word. This is especially true when it comes to business. It seems to be difficult for someone to say sorry and confess that they messed up. I believe that it’s because if they do say sorry, and confess that they messed up, they think that they’ll lose money. But that’s not true, in fact, if they start saying sorry, they’ll start earning a lot more.

Let me explain why, by giving you two fairly similar examples. This story happened to me within one week while I visited two different restaurants.

Another pizza marketing story

Bill is probably thinking that I’m nuts talking about pizza all the time. The story about how the pizza delivery guy gave me a ride home, was how it all started. But I’m not an addict, I’m doing it because it’s personal and there’s usually something to learn from it (and I love pizza).

Don’t get me wrong. This story is not really about the pizza.

I was hungry, and I phoned a restaurant and ordered a pizza. My wife drove to the restaurant and walked inside to get the pizza. I was at home with my kids, cleaning the kitchen, lightning candles, and making it all nice for our dinner. We were going to eat it at home. When she arrived at the restaurant, the waiter told her that they’ve made a huge mistake and that the pizza was ruined (the guy making the pizza had forgotten to take it out of the pizza oven in time, so it was a little too crispy).

Now, they could have just given her the messed up pizza, and that wouldn’t have been the first time we’ve experienced something like that from a restaurant. But what they did was amazing. They told her that if she could just wait for 15 minutes, she would get the pizza for free, free sauce (maybe this is a Norwegian thing, but we have sauce on everything), and they gave her free Coca-Cola or coffee while she waited. They turned a bad experience into something extraordinary, something I’ll continue to tell people about.

Even though I eat a lot of pizza, I didn’t have any prior experience with this restaurant.

Another restaurant in another town

Later that week, just a few days after this experience, my family and I visited another town, fairly close to where we live.

This time, my family and I arrived at a completely different restaurant where I ended up ordering… you’ve probably already guessed it – pizza. But that’s not the point. While eating, what happened was that my daughter, she’s eight, spilled her Fanta. She spilled everything. It was Fanta all over the table, on her clothes, on the chair, on the floor. I believe it was on her food as well.

My daughter started crying. My son started laughing, he’s five. My wife and I did our best to control the situation.

What did the people working in the restaurant do?


They offered paper towels. That was it. And, after we’ve cleaned everything, we had to buy another Fanta for her. And now, after we finished cleaning everything, the food was cold.

Think different

At the time, all I was thinking was, why didn’t they just give her a free Fanta? Why didn’t they comfort her? Why didn’t they help out, and turn her embarrassing situation into something remarkable?

My daughter messed up. They didn’t. And I understand that as parents, we should expect things like this to happen, and things like this happen all the time. We did our best. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t the first time, and not the last time. But the thing is, this situation didn’t benefit the restaurant at all, unless their business is all about short term. Because short term, they benefited. We had to pay for an extra Fanta, and that was probably $4 (it’s expensive in Norway). But hey, if I had spread the word about their awesome food and service, they would have earned a lot more than the $4.

If they had turned out to be remarkable, and remarkable isn’t usually just about the food, I would have returned again and again, with my family, friends and co-workers.

To me, any business, no matter what type of business, is about people, and the relationship to people. The food should be awesome, that’s right, but it’s not usually why I return. I continue to buy their service because I have a relationship to the people working there. And making my daughter laugh would have created such a relationship.

I believe that my experience can be used in any business, and that you’ve probably experienced something similar, because we all have, haven’t we?

Your daughter didn’t spill the Fanta, but it might be another situation in another business, and it was all your fault. What happened, and what did the business do about it? That’s the question.

Marketing is not about traditional advertising, not anymore, marketing is about being remarkable, and building strong relationships.


103 thoughts on “How Fanta destroyed everything

  1. Those are great stories Jens, People in business need to realize and remember that a mistake – on anybody’s part – is the best opportunity to create a raving fan (or the opposite of it) as your stories illustrate! You say it all here: ‘Marketing is not about traditional advertising, not anymore, marketing is about being remarkable, and building strong relationships.”

    My daughter visited a diner in Ottawa where the lady didn’t write down any orders but got everything right. When they returned a week later she remembered their names and what they liked for breakfast – right down to how they liked their beverages. Outstanding service! Do you think they told their friends? LOL
    (Hi Bill!)

    • That is a pretty cool story; I know in the back of your mind you are initially thinking ‘you better NOT mess up my order; just write it down’……………..:).

      That was impressive however and yes, you would tell that story to your friends.

      Thanks for stopping by to say hi to Jens.

    • Hi Lori,

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I would never forget a lady like that, I wouldn’t just tell my friends about her, I would become a raving fan myself and I would come back to this diner again and again, I would have driven hours just to eat where this woman work – even if they didn’t serve pizza πŸ™‚

      • I don’t know the restaurant scene in Norway, but in my town of Lakeland, Fl people eat out……….a lot. There are plenty of choices/alternatives; if you stink it up too bad, people will just go somewhere else.

    • La Wii ha un’ottimo sistema di ilzilunamione, ma sembra scarsa nella gestione del bump mapping sulle texture. Effettivamente raramente si vede questo effetto nei giochi, come del resto cosi’ accadeva sul gamecube.A me sinceramente non dispiace che sia su binari, e l’ondata di giochi di questo tipo era prevedibile che sarebbe scoppiata, anche perch il sistema di puntamento e fatto a pennello per questi giochi.Sicuramente pi avanti uscir anche la versione in terza persona del titolo capcom, ma si vede che non’ la loro priorit .

  2. Well, we are going to test my tech limits and I’m responding via my iPhone which I couldn’t do w/ the crackberry. I was blind, but now I see…:).

    If you take care of the little stuff you can create a wow experience; obviously example # 2 did not.

    I’m out of office but will be back.

  3. Jens, so great to see you over here at Bill’s place! I hope you’re enjoying the Florida sunshine.

    I spoke with a local restaurant critic in our area yesterday who was telling me that he believed most restaurants don’t know what they’re selling. He said most restaurants think they’re selling food, but they’re really selling service. He pointed out that you would forgive a bad meal more quickly than you would forgive bad service.

    Jens, you know more about restaurants than most restaurateurs!

    You’re absolutely right, Jens, service is key. Your two examples show that the feelings you got from your dining experiences mattered way more than the food did. You and Lori point out the great feelings you got from the service, without mentioning how good the food was, because the food wasn’t as important as the service.

    Thanks, Bill, for bringing Jens over to your blog to share his wisdom with us! πŸ™‚

    • It was only uncomfortable for a minute when he rolled out of the changing room in his Speedo, but I had already seen pictures so I was somewhat prepared……now if I can just get him to take those black socks off………….:).

      That’s a good story from the restaurant critic and oh so true. Unfortunately, too many restaurants are barely making it and they think it’s just a money issue and they lose site of how big an impact just doing the right thing can have on their business.

      Thanks for sharing this story and good to see you.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      I wish I was in Florida and not just at Bill’s blog. I’m looking outside and it’s not just dark, but it’s pure black and freezing (I’m freezing inside).

      Yes, it’s the same whatever we’re selling, pizza or shovels, or even virtual things online (but this is even more important in the offline world). We’re selling an experience and a story. McDonald’s should say, you want a story with that.. that would make a huge difference.

      Thanks a lot Carolyn πŸ™‚

      • Jens, we should take a road trip to Bill’s. It’s about 7 degrees here (which may seem balmy to you about now) and gray.

        Yes, Bill, that’s Celsius, before you laugh too hard at us Polar bears, πŸ™‚

        You’re right, Jens, it’s all about experience and stories. McDonald’s does sell stories. The characters are Mayor McCheese, the Hamburgler, etc. The stories and characters are geared towards the kids. Parents just follow along.

    • I don’t think you are allowed to reply to someone else’s comment because apparently it doesn’t leave a reply button; you will have to start a new thread………..yikes………..just kidding, I’m just glad to see you……..

      • Wow, I just saw a reply button… suddenly they’re everywhere πŸ™‚

        I’ve been with my kids all day at swimming. You might think that I’m in Florida, but I’ve been inside all day. My daughter participated in a contest (and she’s only 8), after that I drove my son to his swimming practice. It’s awesome, but I would apreciate being outside for a few minutes every day πŸ™‚

  4. I think this principle of service and helping someone when they “mess up” can be applied to online relationships, too. A good friend recently made a “faux pas” and instead of being helped through it, was treated pretty badly. It was sad.

    My reaction to that situation is the same as yours in the second restaurant. I stopped frequenting their sites, and wouldn’t recommend them either. They taught me how I’d be treated if I messed up.

    Sticking with the food analogy, “don’t cry over spilled milk” creates a better relationship overall. A child knows when they’ve made a mistake and in the end just wants to know if they’re loved more than the clean floor or wasted milk.

    It takes a lot of maturity and calmness to not react harshly AND to be comforting at the same time! I’m still learning how to work it out at home, but I can see, even at that level, how important being service-minded is to relationships.

    Great post!
    Thanks Jens!

    • Sometimes it is the little things, good or bad that have the biggest impact. It’s funny how people react to certain things. I’m not sure if your ‘incident’ on social was the same one I am familiar with; but the one I know got way over the top quickly and I felt badly for my friend because I know the intent was was only supportive.

      Part of the problem with social is what you write might not be taken the same way as what your intent was. I’ve had a couple of mini blow-ups and all I could do was fall back on ‘if you know me, you know what type of person I am’.

      Good luck on mastering the ‘calm’ approach to the home situations. Those kids know how to push buttons……………:)

      • Bill,

        I can relate to this, especially because I’m Norwegian and English is not my first language. I try to explain things in a way that I hope people can’t misunderstand. I’d probably do it in a completely different way in Norwegian, and that’s because I can sort of play with the language, and get people to understand my underlaying message… but I’ know I’d mess up if I just tried to be funny or something in English. Well, unless it’s you I’m talking to πŸ™‚

    • Hi Betsy,

      That’s true, it can be applied to online relationships too. I’m having an issue with my current webhost, they’re nice people, but they’re not as nice as I’d like them to be, and they’re not as helpful as I would like. So, I’m testing the service at other companies. The problem, with many companies, is that they put all their service in the sales process, and you get all the help you’d expect and more, and then you buy, and everything stops. It’s the same with many restaurants, everything’s perfect and then you get your food, and that’s it. It’s even more important that everytyhing is perect after you get your food.

      It’s very interesting that you bring kids into the discussion. All they really care about is being loved. It’s not what they say. But it’s the truth. No matter what happens, as long as we can bring them love and trust, and keep our relationship close, we’ve done a great job.

      Thanks a lot for the kind words Betsy.

  5. Thanks Jens and Bill. You are so right. Some people and companies, just don’t get it. Especially In todays world of social media, you can not be bad at customer service, or even ordinary. You need to be Extra-ordinary. It pays off in so many ways. People will share with most everyone their good experience, but more people will share their Extra-ordinary experience AND/or a bad experience. And with the power of social media, a restaurant could make or lose a lot of customers and money, based on the experience of just one customer.

    Thanks again Jens. Great job. Fanta is way too expensive in Norway. Dayum. Ha !

    Take CARE.


    • What is Fanta; all we southern boys know is Coke, right?

      Part of the problem is hiring minimum wage employees who would much rather be doing something else. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find the ones who really C.A.R.E.

      It’s easy to say just hire the right person, but in the service industry not always easily done.

      Good to see you (again) Al.

      • Bill,

        This reminds me of the book called Fast Food Nation, where the author describes the fast food business being mostly teenagers who doesn’t care about their work or the food they’re serving. I’m not going into details about what he had discovered, but after I read the book I didn’t enter a fast food restaurant in a while πŸ™‚

    • Hi Al,

      Yes, Fanta is expensive in Norway πŸ™‚

      It’s very interesting to talk about customer service and relations, especially when it comes to social media. A lot of companies, and I bet it’s not just a trend in Norway, are thinking about going with social media, before they can manage they’re current relations with their customers. So, a restaurant starts using Facebook and Twitter and are thinking that this will change everything, but they still don’t talk to their customers when they’re in the restaurant and they don’t create the strong relationship while staring their customers in the face. But on Facebook, that’s where they will be doing it… it’s an interesting world we’re living in πŸ™‚

  6. Jens, so great to see you here:) I love stories that tell deliver a powerful message, and both these stories do exactly that.

    I love Carolyn’s statement: “…most restaurants think they’re selling food, but they’re really selling service.” I believe that applies to just about any business. It’s the customer service we experience that creates the customer experience we remember. And it’s the service and the experience that we tell others about.

    Wonderful post Jens, and a great reminder that being remarkable is what we should all strive to be in business. Cheers! Kaarina

    • Bottom line, how did you feel afterwards. If it put a smile on somebody’s face because you created a memorable experience then you have done well. And it doesn’t have to be over the top crazy good, just pay attention to detail and take care of the little things first.

      Good to see you ma’am; I hope you are having a colourful day………:)

    • Hi Kaarina,

      I love high quality customer service, and not the pushy sales people who are always asking if I want more and if I’m satisfied with my food. They think they’re doing an awesome job, but all they’re doing is annoying me. Creating a strong relationship is craftmanship and it’s difficult. I’d love to see Bill at work with his insurance business, I bet he’s the best when it comes to getting every single customer to feel special and creating that strong bond.

      Thanks a lot for your kind words Kaarina πŸ™‚

    • Hi Jens & Bill!

      Once I read Kaarina’s comment here I thought, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!” Customer service is so, so important to any business. It’s one of my favorite things, really!

      I remember being in the hospital after having my son. That first night after he was born he just wouldn’t stop crying. I was a new mom and completely overwhelmed. I paged the nurse and told her I had to go to the bathroom. Could she come in and be with the baby so I could have a moment in there? Her answer was, “You can wheel him in there with you.” Needless to say that wasn’t a great night for me.

      The next morning there was a new nurse on duty. She came in and asked me how my night was. I couldn’t help it–I burst into tears and blabbered on about everything. She stopped and listened. She then put a sign on my door that said “Mommy sleeping- please do not disturb.” She took the baby for me so that I could get some rest. She told me she remembered how it felt to be a new mom and how exhausting and emotional her first night was. She checked in on me all day keeping things lighthearted and calm.

      When I left the hospital I wrote a note to the hospital about that awesome nurse. Which nurse do you think handled the situation better? I don’t think I need to tell you:)

      • Great story Alicia and so true, it was just a simple act of kindness at the right time that made all the difference in the world.

        Unfortunately, most of the minimum wage jobs are being filled by people who just want a job. Once they see how hard they work, how little they make, they are sometimes not inclined to be overly ‘service’ oriented.

        Good to see you and thanks for stopping by to say hi to Jens….

  7. Ah Jens, great to see you over here at Bill’s place.

    I love your pizza experiences. Every time I read about you and your pizza you get me so hungry for it. Heck, I wish I could eat pizza as often as you do but then I’d be the size of a house. That’s just not going to happen.

    You are so right. If restaurants only realized what they are actually serving. It’s like when I was in corporate America. I had someone tell me long ago that when checking different vendors the problem is you usually will find one with a great product or one with a great service but seldom will you find one with both. I hated to admit it but boy were they right.

    I know that help comes and goes but they should be training them to make their customers experience worth coming back for time and time again. My niece is a waitress and she has told me that one of the reasons they have such a bad attitude is because the way they are treated not only by the customers but by their managers as well. They aren’t paid much hourly and are short handed the majority of the time due to not hiring as many people in this economy. I really can feel her pain, trust me, but the owners need to realize that if they don’t start catering more to the customers and that includes caring for their help, they won’t have a business.

    Great example Jens! Thanks for sharing.


    • Have you seen Jens, especially in that blue Speedo, he is the size of a house…..:). Just kidding Jens, you are still too sexy for your body.

      The analogy you used about right product with right service being difficult to match is what we use in trying to get a prospect to make the right insurance broker selection. In our industry we represent most of the carriers but not all. Just because someone has the best price doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best fit.

      It is hard for minimum wage people who are treated badly to go above and beyond. Unfortunately, you see some people who are ill suited for a service industry type job but they need to work.

      Good to see you Adrienne.

    • Hi Adrienne,

      This reminds me of the University where I work. Most people won’t agree with me, but I believe that most colleges and universities are almost identical. We have the same type of education, and the quality of the educaiton is different, but not a whole lot. But, what we can do to make a huge impact is the customer service. Students should be treated as VIP’s and customers, not just kids that should go to class and that’s it. If we start treating them as customers and build strong relationships, we probably won’t need to advertise at all. They’ll tell their friends and families about us and their experience, and that would be an awesome word of mouth campaign. And a very interesting one indeed πŸ™‚

      I truly understand why a waitress would have a bad attitude. The manager should understand that they have a common goal, to create the best customer experience and keep the customers coming back. And that can’t be not all the people working really care and do their absolute best. One person with a bad attitude can do a lot of damage, and the higher up in the hierarchy the person is, the more damage he or she will be doing.

      Thanks a lot for your kind words Adrienne.

  8. I loved your story Jens and you are right…it isn’t a story about pizza (although, two pizzas in one week….hmmmm….) It’s a story about customer service and the power of good customer service. It doesn’t take much to provide excellent customer service to our clients. customers. patients but when poor customer service is delivered, the results can be devestating. Good or bad customer service turns out to be so much more than the immediate response to a situation…it turns out to be one that affects your future customer base. With the experience that you had at pizza place #2, you are not going to return so they lost YOU as a customer BUT, you probably shared this story with some of your local friends and as a result, this pizza place also lost the potential business of many more! The trickle down effect of good or bad customer service is sometimes more powerful than the act itself
    Great post and great guest Bill

    • If you didn’t know, Jens is a vegetarian and you can only eat tofu for so long……:).

      Jens does make a good point and the fact you will probably share a bad experience we even more people.

      Hope whatever you are building is getting close to being done; you know, they pay people to do that………..

      Have a good one.

      • Bill,

        I’m not a huge Tofu fan πŸ™‚

        I haven’t eaten Tofu in a very long time, and my last experience with Tofu wasn’t a good one… I’m not sure what it tasted like, but it wasn’t anywhere close to food. Now I’m eating more vegetables and soy (they make so many interesting soy products, it’s almost like I’m eating meat).

      • I’ve been doing the vegan thing for over 4 months now and I am loving it…I have to admit that it is a bit of a challenge when we go out for a meal because so much of our eating habits automatically include dairy (as well as meat) I am getting pretty good and working around menus and at home I love cooking vegan…I feel healthy and not so “logy” by eliminating dairy and meats. I have found a lot of good recipes with tofu. I can make an amazing scrambled tofu that tastes just like scrambled eggs (if not better!)
        Oh and the project needs to be done by the first of the year or we are going to have some mighty unhappy patients waiting out in the hall while we finish construction πŸ˜‰ This holiday season is going to go by even more quickly than they usually do because of this deadline!! I might just call you to come over to help!!! πŸ˜‰

        Anyway…just a little sidebar πŸ˜‰ Carry on….

    • Hi Claudia,

      What you’re saying is exactly what I believe to be true. It’s even more important today than ever before. And that’s because of how easy it is to share opinions. Now, within a few seconds I can share my bad experience (or good) with thousands of people. A few years ago, I’d share my experience only with my immediate family and close friends, and that was it. So, the power of customer service is more important than ever.

      Thanks a lot for your kind words Claudia πŸ™‚

  9. It is always about customer service. That first restaurant saw an opportunity to stand head and shoulders above the rest and did that. The other did not.

    I have had those kinds of experiences too and whenever I have a great experience it makes me feel so much better about spending my money with them.

    Two really great stories. Nice post Jens

    • I wonder if it had any impact on the story if one was family owned or not. Sometimes when the owners are there every day and hands-on, in my opinion they seem to ‘get it’ more.

      Good to see you Nancy and shrimp and bacon over cheese grits still rocks……I don’t care what Howie says……

      • Bill,

        I believe you’re absolutely right. I see this a lot as well, especially in the small town where I live. The restaurants that are not family owned are not the ones that focuses on customer service. So, it’s true for the restaurants where I live.

    • Hi Nancy,

      Sometimes I wonder if it’s actually a good thing for a restaurant or any other business to mess up, and show the customers how they handle it, in order to create this strong relationship.

      If the first restaurant hadn’t messed up, and everything would have been normal, it wouldn’t have been such a great story πŸ™‚

  10. People remember how you made them feel. Make them feel good and they are happy to spend time with you. Businesses need to remember this because it makes all the difference in whether patrons return or go elsewhere.

    • Absolutely. I almost always return based on my relationship with people.

      Whenever I buy Apple products, I drive for 45 minutes to a store where the people remembers my name and always have time to talk. They’re very interested in me, and Apple, and we keep talking for a long time, even if I just buy $10 worth of products (well, I know there are no such things as $10 Apple products, it was just to prove a point) πŸ™‚

  11. Glad Bill reminded me to drop by today Jens, these are good stories right on point with my last 3 posts.

    The first one – how the pizza place turned a problem into opportunity – well, that’s the customer service gold brands dream of, isn’t it? And really the cost to them, remaking the food and a free Coke while your wife waits, is so minor in the scheme of keeping your business, your referrals, you as a loyal customer and brand advocate.

    The second one – I think Disney. Yes we have high – sometimes overly so – expectations as customers and no, it wasn’t the fault of the restaurant that you had an issue. But to let that negative ruin your trip, Disney won’t do that. I’ve seen items replaced when spilled at Disney World, efforts made to shorten lines/waits as best as possible – trying to do what they can not to let a little thing sully your memories of the great trip you’ll want to relive, recommend to others. IIRC, when Amazon’s servers went down, Hootsuite stepped up and made good.

    I say it all the time: crap happens; it’s what you do next that makes the difference. FWIW.

    • The misfortune created an opportunity; and yes, what they did next made all the difference in the world.

      This fit very well with your series; thanks for stopping by to see Jens.

    • Hi Davina,

      I love your reference to Disney. I have only been to Disneyland once, and that’s during my year in High School. But I can only imagine how it would be to bring my family to a place like that. The best places to go to with kids, are the places where they just love kids and base their business on kids having the best time ever. I just don’t understand why not more people understand that if the kids have a wonderful time, the parents will have a wonderful time as well (no matter if the food tastes like …). The kids are the bosses, no matter what people say. They are the ones who decides what to do. I just follow orders. If one restaurant in my town, or even 1 hour drive from our town, would have a playground inside, that owner would become a millionaire during his first year. We don’t have restaurants like that in Norway. But I know that my kids would have a fantastic time there, and they would force me to go there all the time πŸ™‚

      Thanks a lot for your awesome comment.

      PS. I’m thinking about going premium with HootSuite.

  12. I think parents are made out to be second-rate citizens anyway when we bring our kids in for dinner at ages when food spills, drinks splash, chairs get sticky and loud noises occur to the disturbance of other patrons.

    That’s why I rarely went out; that’s why my friend with twin boys went out at 4 p.m.

    Great customer service story!

    • Hi Jayme,

      I’m still having a hard time when we’re out eating, but not anywhere close to when my kids were younger. We didn’t go out much either, and I told my wife that it was just a waste of money. I almost never got to enjoy my meal, and it was always so much work… but now I’m looking back at the time with a smile on my face and thinking about all the “crazy” things that happened to us. The Fanta-story is nothing compared to stories when my kids had to go to the bathroom during the dinner and it was occupied etc.. πŸ™‚

  13. Hi Bill,

    Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really appreciate it. I’m so happy that you didn’t use the speedo picture πŸ™‚

    And wow, the comments are awesome. I’ve been so busy today, that’ll have to start replying tomorrow. Sorry about that, but I promise you that I’ll reply to every single one of them as soon as I wake up.

    Thanks again.

  14. Wow, four bucks for a Fanta!

    I think we’ve all had similar experiences and you really do remember great service. Even the smallest gesture can go a long way. My wife and I were in a restaurant several months ago and were totally ignored by the waitresses. The place wasn’t even full. It was a seat yourself pub / eatery, but man, talk about bad service. We left and went down the block to a brand new place we’d never tried. The owner came out and talked to us. Big, jovial, funny guy with a killer handshake. Talk about a warm reception and we of course had great service. Not sure how much longer the other place will stay in business.

    Jens do you ever make your own pizza?
    Actually it’s one of my favorite things to make at home. Making the dough from scratch, sauce from scratch. It’s an all day thing, but great to do on a dark fall / winter Saturday and you finish with a bottle of red wine or a couple of cold brews, Ahhhh! Very nice.

    Great to see you at Bill’s place. The guy’s the best host. He’s a chips and beer type, but I’m sure he’s big on pizza.

    • Oh yeah, pizza is good; but I can warm up to just about any grub……….:).

      It’s amazing how much disconnect there is between the workers and management/owners at times. I know good help is hard to find, but there should be some zero tolerance behaviors. It’s not worth risking your business over.

      Thanks for dropping in to say hello to Jens; much appreciated.

    • Hi Craig,

      It’s been a while since I’ve experienced a killer handshake. That’s also something you don’t forget πŸ™‚

      I do make my own pizza, and I have even created my own pizza song. When the kids where younger and I was singing to them to get them to sleep (I still do this, but not as often as I used to), I didn’t go with the traditional songs, so I created my own pizza song instead… and it’s basically me singing a funny pizza recipe. I’m not big on making my own pizza sauce, but I experiment a lot on making pizza. I have tried everything I can think of as toppings (well, I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t experiment with meat).

      • Hey Jens,

        Yeah, the guy almost crushed my hand, but he was just under 300 lbs. I would guess … oh I should have used metric, but I can’t do the conversion πŸ™‚

        I figured you were a pizza-maker. Maybe you should post a video on your blog. You singing the pizza song to all your followers, eh?

    • And some of the ‘older’ waitresses will bitch and moan about their lot in life but won’t do anything to change the picture. No job is perfect, but your attitude sure makes a big difference.

      • They make a big deal about that up here. It is funny, because this would be a great place for vampires, really, especially this time of year with about 7 hours of sunlight. Well, some kind of brightness behind the clouds and a steady drizzle. Don’t know if a FLA boy could handle it πŸ˜‰

  15. Great comparison of two similar spots with two very different approaches to service and customer loyalty. The first clearly got it; the second did not. I often see an entire generation (yes, I’m stereotyping here) in the restaurant service industry (aka., waiting tables) with absolutely no investment in the business…no pride of ownership and no understanding that their behavior directly impacts the overall perception of the restaurant in which they work. Just a little extra motivation, a little extra care and attention, would pay off in huge dividends for everyone…not just the owner.

    Thanks for sharing…now, I’m thinking about PIZZA!

    • Make the right hire and a lot of those issues don’t surface. Unfortunately at minimum wage sometimes the ‘talent’ pool isn’t as deep as you would want.

      There is a generational thing going on as well; a completely different mindset and work ethic in a lot of cases.

      Good to see you Erica, thanks for stopping by.

    • Hi Erica,

      I have witness what you’re describing at so many restaurant, and I know that I’m stereotyping, but it seems that there’s a lot better tradition for awesome service in the US than in Norway. I haven’t been to the US a lot, but every time I’m there I get awesome service at most places, no matter what type of store or restaurant I’m in. In Norway, it’s almost the opposite. But Norwegians are completely different when it comes to behavoir towards “strangers” / customers. We usually don’t say hi to people unless we know them, and this tradition seems to be stuck even when it comes to waiting tables. They seems to be shy, and they won’t even look directly at the customers (I’m stereotyping here, but I see this a lot). And I believe that one of the most essential points to great service is the conversation with the customer.

      Now I’m thinking about pizza πŸ™‚

  16. Hi, Jens.

    I am glad that Bill has you here as a guest author or I wouldn’t have known about these two stories you had to share. I have had similar experiences here in Melbourne as well. But, most of the time, it is your second experience that a lot of us get right. The remarkable is few and far between. Somehow restaurant managements don’t realize that aside from selling food, they are also selling experience and it’s the latter that keeps us coming back for more.

    Being a graphic and web designer, I am the business of providing service and while saying sorry is indeed hard, I’ve done my fair share of it. What’s great about providing service is that you can say sorry plus added service to let the customer know that you really care and feel bad about how you messed up. There is nothing wrong with saying sorry as long as you know how to make sure that it just doesn’t stop there.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jens. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Wes,

      Wow Melbourne, that sounds awesome. I’m looking outside and it’s all dark and I’m freezing, and you’re in Melbourne… all I think about when I hear Melbourne is summer and the fantastic Opera house. Now that would have been something. It’s on my list of things to do πŸ™‚

      What’s important in what you’re saying, and something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, is that we need to say sorry even if we’re not sorry. Think about it. You created an awesome design for a customer, it’s exactly what he told you that he wanted, and you did it. It was cheap, and perfect. Now, the customer says that he didn’t like it. Even though it’s exactly what he wanted. Should you say you’re sorry, and start over on the design? I believe you should (most of the times). But, there’s a fine line between spending hours and hours on a single customer, and saying no, because if you spend way too much time with one customer it can ruin your business. But on the other hand, it can also be what will make your business into a huge success.

      I think it’s important to over-derliver all the time, but also in the small details. For instance, if you’re having a meeting with a client, you should know personal things about him. For instance, I love nuts (and I’m a vegetarian). At our meeting, think what’ll happen if you served me nuts and glass of cold Coca-Cola Zero (I love that too). You would be my hero, and I wouldn’t care about the design or the price of the design πŸ™‚

      • I know what you mean, Jens. It makes a lot of difference getting to know a client in a personal level because then you would know how to please them more. But, I did fire a client a few months back because her taking much of my time was more than healthy already. I was taking too much time away from other clients just to be with her, so I told her that I was sorry but I had to let her go.

        By the way, Melbourne is great this time of year. Hope you can come and visit soon.

  17. Hey Jens,

    What I really like about your stories is it shows what happens on the consumer side when you don’t take care of the customer. Unless you are a monopoly, your customer is at your competition the next week, and when they knock it out of the park with service it provides a stark contrast between experiences. The Fanta incident probably stood out as that much worse because you had such an excellent experience from a company in the same line of business. Many small businesses forget that they do not exist in a vacuum.

    Thanks for sharing at Bill’s place!

    • Hi Adam,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words. I learn a lot more from listening to people telling stories about their personal experiences, so I thought I get started with my own, and maybe this is how people can learn from me.

      I see businesses forgetting about customers all the time. To me, marketing is more or less all about relationships. And if you know this, you can sell almost anything. And the more complex the world becomes, the more important relationships become.

      Now, at a time when we buy so much stuff online, relationships and customers service for offline stores becomes even more important as well. The better they treat us, the more we’ll end up buying. That’s how I see it.

  18. Hi, Jens and Bill.

    As usual these days, I have been very much absent from blog hopping and commenting. When I get notifications about new posts, I tell myself that I should visit but just don’t get around to doing it, especially when I have been ordered to lie on my bed all the time now. Bed rests literally suck but if it means my baby’s safety, then I have to bear it, right? Now, there I go ranting about me, when I really wanted to comment on Jens’ stories. 😦

    So, here goes…Jens, thank you for sharing your stories. You are not alone in experiencing those horror stories in restaurants, but you are among the few I know of who had great experiences. It is not often that you will hear of such wonderful experiences from restaurants nowadays. People in the restaurant business or even those selling such stuff as cakes and balloons do not realize that they are in the business not just to sell goods and services, they are also there to sell experience. They do not realize that if a person has a good experience with them, that will usually be the basis for their coming back or not.

    I wish I have a similar remarkable story to share, Jens, but I don’t. I have a whole lot of the horror stories instead, which I don’t want to share because they just bring me down. So, when I do have that great experience, I’ll get back to you.

    I am glad that Bill had you as a ghost author. Your post is great! πŸ™‚

    Hey, Bill. Miss talking to you. Hope we can schedule those Skype chats soon. I am not one of those who will disappear just because I heard your voice. πŸ˜‰

    • Hey Kim, making the rounds today, huh?

      I think most are happy just to get ‘ok’ service because a lot of times it is sub par. That’s why with just a little effort you can stand out and I’ll bet make much more money in tips.

      Jens has done a great job playing Caspar the friendly ghost; I think it kept him busy trying to figure out where all the reply buttons went.

      So good to see you; hope you have a good weekend.

      • Hey Kim,

        I finally found the reply button. We don’t eat at restaurant a lot in Norway (it’s way too expensive, $4 for a Fanta is fairly cheap at a restaurant in Norway). The customer service is usually not that great either. I have had a lot of bad experiences, or just ok experiences at restaurants. And it’s even more important to get good service when you’re eating out with your kids. It’s not as important right now, as my kids are 5 and 8 years old, but when my son was 1 year old, that was a hectic period πŸ™‚

  19. Hey Jens,

    Both of your stories are very interesting.

    From the employee’s perspective, they have done great job in story one while not so great in story two. They could have really made the day by just doing more than they were doing. In the process they would have earned more customers than they ever hoped by for example advertising on TV or newspaper. Small things in business add up to whole big thing negative or positive.
    From a management perspective, management in second story have to learn right lessons. Empowered employees make for a better workforce. May be the employees were not motivated enough and may be they were not empowered to give even a $4 fanta free.
    In the end the clear winner is business in storyy one. They would want you to come over again and again.

    • And when you say about it adding up, what it starts to do is build a culture; a certain level of expectations each and every time.

      Good to see you Mr Saxena, hope all is well and thanks for dropping by to say hello to Jens.

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