Today I had an interesting lesson in bad customer service – which was so good that I’d probably go back there again.
Seems like a contradiction?
Let me introduce you to Larsson’s Coffee House & Creperie in Looe… but first some of the story of why it was so bad.
So on our annual visit to Cornwall we had to kill a bit of time around Looe while we waited for our friend Mary. We’d done the beach and shops and fancied a coffee with a little sweet treat (we’re on holiday after all). Now Creperies aren’t normally a haunt of ours, mainly as Isaac doesn’t like them – but as he’d been stocked up with ice-cream we thought we’d indulge ourselves.
On walking in there was only one other couple there, sipping coffee and watching the world go by. So we grabbed a seat, swapped a little banter with the other couple and started perusing the menus that Steph found on the counter.
Now we weren’t in a huge rush but it soon transpired nor was the one girl serving behind the counter. She was preoccupied with the other couples order and specifically how much hollandaise sauce she should make…
Soon the girl emerged with some pancake & hollandaise concoction, which was unceremoniously delivered before returning to the kitchen to make ‘the other one’.
No acknowledgement to us – just a steely focus on getting the next crepe done.
Now I did feel a little sorry for her as it was obvious that cooking crepes and waffles took a degree of concentration and work – and couldn’t be done while maintaining the front of house (so to speak). But still basic customer service lessons will always teach you to acknowledge and explain the situation.
5 minutes later – she emerged again…another delivery of hollandaise coated goodness…and finally some recognition…
However, once she had started to take the order another couple came in…this obviously tipped some internal trigger in terms of her perceived workload as no sooner had we asked for coffees than she had disappeared upstairs…
The result of which led to the owner making a fairly flamboyant entrance.
Now things should probably have improved.
Certainly the order was taken and she squirreled off immediately to start cooking. Leaving the owner to chat to the 6 people that now were sat center stage at his performance.
The service was still slow and disjointed – Steph’s being half eaten before mine turned up.
Plus my order was wrong – it was meant to have summer berries, which the owner quickly pointed out to the girl were not the stack of blueberry’s she’s heaped on my plate (they were for his porridge in the morning – or at least they were).
For a creperie they even ran out of the basics (milk & eggs) leading the owner to pop out to the local shop…luckily not on our order.
So as experiences of customer service go – fairly awful against the normal measures.
Yet below are three questions I posed to Steph and her answers:-
- Did you enjoy it? Yes it was a great place
- Would you recommend it? Absolutely
- Why? It had a great atmosphere and the owner was a great laugh
…and it’s that last point that really struck me today, because I’d answer the same questions in a very similar manner.
The fact that the owner was a larger than life character who engaged, chatted and had banter with his customers made up for the lack of basics. Few of the customer service basics were there but none of these mattered against the ability to just engage with people and show an interest in them. Maybe he played into that classic 70’s British proprietor mould where customers are just an unfortunate part of the job – even down to the fact that he only opened the place to get a decent cup of Italian coffee. Yet it was that humor and unapologetic disorder that was completely engaging and would have us both go back for more – even Isaac loved him.