I had just finished a terrific bowl of Farro Soup at Spiga, a small Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side, when the kitchen runner appeared with the entrees for our table.
My wife got the orata. Placed in front of me was a large, cheesy, white mass of pasta–not at all what I had expected.
“What’s this?” I asked the runner.
“That’s the lasagna,” he said.
“That’s not fettucine bolognese?”
“No sir, it’s lasagna.”
“But I ordered the fettucine.”
At this my wife piped up. “No you didn’t,” she said. “You ordered lasagna.”
“You totally ordered lasagna.”
“But I hate lasagna.”
“Well, you ordered it.”
“Why would I order lasagna?”
The runner, equal parts confused and amused, asked me if I wanted to exchange dishes.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “Can I? I mean, if this is what I ordered–”
“I can check, it’s no problem, if you don’t want this I will see.”
“Okay,” I said, feeling extremely guilty. “Please let the chef know it’s my mistake and not yours. I’ll eat the lasagna if I have to, since I guess I ordered it.”
“Oh, you ordered it,” my wife said.
“I think it’s okay. Let me see,” said the runner. He took the lasagna and disappeared into the kitchen. My wife gave me a who-are-you-and-what-did-you-do-with-my-husband look, and we waited.
Not five minutes later the runner reappeared with a piping hot plate of fettucine bolognese. I thanked him profusely.
“We’re happy to do it,” the runner said. “The chef said if it’s busy, we might not be able to, but since it’s quiet we want you to eat what you like.”
The chef voluntarily took back an $18 entree for no reason other than a customer’s mental error. No allergies, no spoilage, no poor preparation–just “oops, I didn’t want that,” corroborated laughingly, yet replaced at no additional charge, and with a smile. Several smiles, in fact, as our waiter ribbed me good-naturedly after the fettucine arrived.
In exchange, our very good meal became an outstanding one. The flavorful meal was enhanced by the excellent service. We left with a story to tell about our experience, which will encourage friends to try the restaurant for themselves. We will certainly be back.
Does your business dedicate itself to this level of customer satisfaction? What would you gain by doing so? What are you missing by not?