The Spectacles: an Anecdote of Customer Delight


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It was a much talked about restaurant and it was my birthday. We decided to go there for dinner, 14 of us. 

My feeling of disappointment set in as soon as we got there. It wasn’t very well lit (and I like restaurants to have atleast enough light to se what you’re eating). The cuisine was eclectic and the flavours as varied. The hors d’oeuvres were tasty tidbits; the entrée passed muster and dessert, well, the less said the better.

But we all seemed to be having a blast. After all, it was a birthday party. Yet I couldn’t help but feel that this quality of food didn’t warrant the prices mentioned on the menu. Then they brought in the cake. My friends sang sang ‘happy birthday’. Some of the guests around joined in too. We popped some champagne. Everyone was in high spirits. All in all, it was fun.

Then came the check. In the dim lights I could barely read the faint print, and I had forgotten to bring my reading glasses. Jokingly I asked the waiter, ‘you wouldn’t be having reading glasses by any chance?’

‘Sir, what is your reading number?’ he asked. I told him. He left the table.

He was gone for a couple of minutes. When he returned, he had an ornamental wooden box in his hand. Ceremoniously he opened the box to reveal reading glasses, about 8 of them, all neatly laid out in satin lined grooves, each with a number labeled neatly beside it.

I was astounded, as were the others sitting around the table. This was really thinking out of the box by the restaurant’s management. Guests at adjoining tables also turned to look at the unique customer experience transpiring.

I took the glasses, scanned the bill, and added a heavy tip, way beyond what I had decided to give for the quality of food we had just eaten. On the way back, the only conversation was about the box of spectacles, the bland food completely forgotten.

I never did visit that restaurant again. But whenever I talk about it, it’s only to refer to the spectacles box and that amazing experience.

Moral of the story:

  1. Keep the customer at the center of your service strategy.
  2. Every little bit counts; don’t not do something because it seems too little/irrelevant.
  3. You can salvage a service failure with small thoughtful gestures.
  4. You don’t have to discount your product. Instead do something more for the customer.
  5. Give your customer something good to remember you by, and they wont badmouth you even if there is a service failure.

Customer Experience builds with every small action.

What are the kind of service experiences you’ve had? Good or bad, I’d love to read them.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sunil Panikker
Sunil Panikker is a business consultant specializing in customer service, operations and business strategy. He has honed his expertise over 30 years of experience, working in senior management positions, with companies having global footprints, and responsibilities that have been cross-functional & multi-locational. His blog shares the experience and expertise assimilated from managing customer experience across multiple diverse industries.


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