Retail Relationships: Service & Perks
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In this article, I'm going to share two very recent experiences I have had with a couple of well-known brands, Ruby Tuesday and a Hilton Property. I will foreshadow these examples with the caveat that these are MY perceptions on how I felt during the interactions. Many may say both of these are very reasonable and that I shouldn't have been irked. That very well may be true, but in the moment, I felt disappointment and was made to feel "wrong." I believe in the mantra, "even when a customer isn't right, you shouldn't make them wrong." So, here we go...
Ruby Tuesday - Newark, NJ Airport
I had a layover in the airport and was a bit hungry. Upon arriving at my gate area, there were two options: (1) A generic kiosk type café that served individual Pizzeria Uno pizzas, as well as some other items. (2) There was also a Ruby Tuesday adjacent. I decided to just grab a small pizza and a drink. I then proceeded to take a seat in an area that looked like it was "airport space," literally in the open within the gate area. Once approaching, I see a sign that says, "Ruby Tuesday Dining." There are plenty of tables open, and it's not in the actual restaurant across the hallway. So, I decide to sit down and enjoy my quick meal. After all, I do eat at Ruby Tuesday on some occasions at airports, and who knows, I may want a glass of wine as well. So, I sit down, begin to eat my pizza, and after a bite or two, I'm approached by a server. She starts the conversation with: "You can't sit here; this is for Ruby Tuesday customers only." I politely say, "I'll only be a few minutes." She responds, "I'm sorry, but you can't sit here." I simply say, "Okay, I understand," then I take another bite of my pizza.
This is where I began a social experiment. My mind was racing... She never asked me if I wanted anything from Ruby Tuesday, and she didn't offer me a menu. Or, what happens if someone just doesn't leave their seat? I wondered all of these plus a few other potentially interesting service outcomes. She left and sent over another server. He approached and said that the other server said that I wouldn't leave, and then, he told me the servers would get in trouble with management if they allowed anyone to sit here who wasn't dining at Ruby Tuesday. I replied, "I understand; go ahead and let the manager know that I simply wouldn't leave." He said, "Okay, no problem." All of this is being done in a very calm, polite manner by all involved. The manager then approached me and said, "My servers said you wouldn't leave; this area is reserved for Ruby Tuesday customers." Then, he uttered some magical words, "Is there anything I can get you from Ruby Tuesday?" I said, "Yes, I'd love a glass of wine, would you bring me the menu?" He said, "Absolutely!" He brought over the menu, I ordered a glass of wine (which cost more than my pizza and drink from the café), I paid and I tipped.
So, here are the key points:
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