It’s Never Wrong to Do the Right Thing
I recently rented the movie, The Intern, and Robert DeNiro’s character mentioned this Mark Twain quote as one of his favorites. One of mine, too. My husband’s company has built a 35-year industry reputation on a similar guiding principle ~ always do what is right for the customer, even if it’s not what is right for the company. How many businesses can say that and deliver on it consistently? Not many can.
Last summer, my husband and I dined at a higher end, well-known restaurant that had a patio. It was a beautiful summer day and we wanted to have some cocktails and appetizers while enjoying the sunshine. We frequented this establishment several times a month, as they had an extensive wine list with great food and outstanding service. I guess you could call us regulars. We were seated on the patio, literally two steps from the bar area. Since it was Happy Hour, my husband ordered his favorite small plates … and then was promptly informed the Happy Hour menu wasn’t permitted on the patio. We looked and there were no other patrons around. In fact, the restaurant next door was crazy busy but there was no one, other than a couple cozied up in a far corner booth in the bar, besides us. The server said she’d get the manager. The gentleman came over, reinforced that indeed the Happy Hour menu wasn’t available on the patio and offered to move us to a bar table just 18 inches away. But there was no sun in the shaded bar area, and my husband wanted sun. 18 inches stood between making a regular customer, who spent considerable dollars, happy or unhappy. It was their policy, the manager said apologetically. My husband dubbed it Un-Happy Hour instead. Could we have moved to the bar table to get the special menu? Yes. Could they have made an exception to their policy? Yes. We ended up walking right next door to the restaurant to enjoy their Happy Hour … with sun … on a patio.
We had not returned to that restaurant until recently.
The reason we went back? After receiving monthly “we miss you” loyalty member emails and being reminded of that bad experience each time, my husband finally responded and explained why. The same day he emailed his response, he got a call from the restaurant’s general manager of the local restaurant to personally apologize. It was the same gentleman who told us it was their policy. He recalled the event and agreed he should have handled it differently. That manager followed up with an apology letter and $ 50 gift card.
Last week, we went to Happy Hour and at the end of our meal, presented the gift card to our server. A few minutes later, a different manager came over, introduced himself and inquired how we got the card. We related the story. It seems this restaurant had a special colored gift card for when customers have bad experiences ~ it was red ~ so the server immediately knew to get the manager when she saw it. I thought that was genius. The manager thanked us for allowing them the opportunity to make it right, said they do try to learn from their mistakes and that he appreciated the honest feedback. He then gave us his business card “to call anytime if he could be of service.”
Yes, organizations must establish systems and protocols to run predictable, profitable businesses ~ I know this to be true, as I coach dental practices on that very same principle! ~ yet, I also know that there will ALWAYS be occasions to step outside those boundaries in the interest of doing what’s right, not necessarily what the policy says.
It’s never wrong to do the right thing.