PF Changs vs Red Door Spa

Otherwise known as a tale of two business mentalities. About a month or so ago, it was Bridget’s (my wife) birthday. So I set up a little dinner with some family and friends at the local PF Changs and then set her and some of her friends up with a day at the spa at the Red Door Spa. Both of these companies fucked up, and this is a story about how they each dealt with it.

PF Changs

We had reservations for 12, not a huge party but larger than a chain restaurant really wants to deal with on a Friday night reservation or no. None the less the party at the table they planned for us to sit at didn’t leave until 3 hours after they arrived, which was also 1 hour after our reservation time. So we’re standing around making small talk and glancing over at the table to see if it was being bussed yet. The crew at PF Chang’s handled it well though, they explained the situation and apologized and when ready they finally took us to our table. Once we were seated, almost immediately 6-8 appetizer plates came out without us ordering on the house. They apologized again, and when the bill came I saw not only had they covered the apps, they also covered our first two rounds of drinks and had written “Thanks for your patience, sorry for the hassle!” Well played. Payed up, tipped well and went on to have a great rest of the evening.

Red Door

The next day the girls head off to the spa. I’d prepaid for everything and we’d scheduled everything so they would be grouped together for everything except their massages. They arrived early and got started a little late but no worries. But then they split them up for everything, putting them in different rooms. Kind of defeats the point of going together if you can talk to one another. When they asked why they weren’t together they simply said they were too busy, and Saturday isn’t a good day for groups. When it was explained that everything had been planned in advanced simply so they could all be together, they asked for the manager. She never came out of her office. None the less they managed to get them all together for the last service, manicures or pedicures or something. Then, when all was said and done, they asked them to pay. Confused, they explained that it was already paid for. Red Door said it hadn’t and charged them. They paid and left confused and pissed off. Of course I was pissed because they’d just double charged us, so the next day after I was told all this I called them back. The receptionist (the same I’d spoken to when booking things) said she’d left explicit directions to sit the party together and not to charge them as they’d already been paid for. She apologized, and refunded the 2nd payments they charged as well as summoned the manager to speak with me. The manager said she was busy and would call me back, and despite two more calls to her she’s never called back. Needless to say, no one I know is going there any more.

In closing

Just thought the situation was a great encapsulation of an easy, and valuable, lesson to learn; there’s a right way and a wrong way to respond when something goes wrong with a customer. If you do it right, the customer may be so impressed that the minor problem is more than erased by the good will generated by the solution. The Ritz Carlton methodology of surprising and delighting customers and clients. But if you put your head in the sand and try to ignore the problem until it goes away, by the time you pull your head out and look around you’ll be alone and far too late to do anything about it.

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