Customer Service Done Right: Soluna Grill Makes The Save

I wrote the other day about how companies handle a situation when something goes wrong — my newsletter company’s shrug still rankles. So it’s only fair to commend a local eatery who got it right.

Last night my wife and had dinner at Portland’s Soluna Grill. We were seated quickly, and a waitress came by with menus. But she didn’t come back to take our orders. We saw her moving back and forth from the kitchen, delivering food and checking in on other tables. But as the clock continued to tick and our hunger grew, she never made a move in our direction.

Finally I caught her attention, motioned her over, and told her we were ready to order. At this point, she was Soluna Grill’s marketing department — a small slice of neighborhood word-of-mouth (and although she didn’t know it, the immense power of Portland’s Finest Advertising Blog) was her responsibility.

This is where things got good. She immediately apologized, told us that she’d gotten mixed up on table assignments, and said, “I’m on the case now. What can I get you?” Minutes later, she was back with our wine, and informed us that drinks would be on the house.

From that moment on, the service was flawless, the food was superb (stay for dessert — Soluna’s Chocolate Bourbon Croissant Bread Pudding is a mind-blower). And, true to her word, there was a discount on the final bill that more than covered our drinks.

Here’s what she got right after something went wrong:

1. She immediately took responsibility for the problem, and for fixing it: “I’m sorry, it was my fault. I’m on the case now.”

2. She volunteered compensation. I don’t know whether she had to get management approval, or whether she was empowered to comp the drinks on her own. The ten minutes we’d lost seemed pretty minor to us, and we weren’t going to ask for anything — but it felt awfully good when she offered.

3. Once she made the offer, she followed through and made sure it was reflected on the bill.

4. Once she said she was on the case, she was on the case.

Her actions meant that instead of being focused on a snafu early in the experience, we could rave to our friends about the rest of the experience — the excellent seafood stew, the perfectly-cooked halibut… and that Chocolate Bourbon Croissant Bread Pudding.

Whatever it says on the organizational chart, your front-line employees are your Marketing Department. Mistakes happen. People are human. And customers will forgive an occasional stumble if you empower your employees to take responsibility and make amends quickly.


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