Sometimes You Only Get One Chance at a First Impression

Have you ever thought about how important your front line employees are?  We all know that everyone pays attention to the C-Suite, but do we pay attention to those people that are actually interacting with customers, or guests, on a regular basis?

A few weeks ago I wrote about a bad customer service experience that was compounded by a bad social media customer experience. Whenever I do this, which hasn’t been too often, I always give an update on the situation regardless if the brand I mentioned takes action or not.

This time it was Outback Steakhouse, and you can read about the details of our visit here. After some support from social media friends, I was contacted by the regional manager through email and was sent a card with some store credit.

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There were a couple of things that stood out. First was that the card was note inside the card was hand written. I think that’s great because it shows that the regional manager actually took the time and effort to write something. It wasn’t some pre-typed and mass produced apology card.

Second, the amount that was given to us as credit covered the amount that we paid. I don’t show all of the credit / voucher cards in the photo, but what was included in the card covered what we paid. That’s also great because it shows that they took the time to actually check our bill and see how much we spent.

It’s very clear that the Outback Steakhouse team is trying their best to make up for the bad experience that we had, and to be fair, I’m appreciating the effort. From what was communicated through email, the team also knows that it is definitely a training issue. And that brings me back to the original question, have you ever thought about how important your front line employees are?

Your front line employees, the ones that interact with your customers the most, are your chance to make a good first impression. And sometimes you only get one shot at it. You won’t be able to prevent all mistakes from happening, but proper training and doing what you can to hire the right people will help.

I’ve been to Outback Steakhouse once in the last 10 years. So for all intents and purposes, this one time can be considered a first time experience. And as you know, it wasn’t a good one. Even though the Outback Steakhouse regional management team has made every effort to try and get me to return, I am still unsure if it’s worth it. I only have this one experience as a reference point, and I’m not sure a free meal is worth the aggravation and frustration of a bad experience. See what I’m getting at?

I applaud the Outback Steakhouse regional management team for trying to make things right. It’s really a good example of customer service done right after something has gone wrong. I just hope they make every effort to improve their service training, and impress on their front line employees the importance of making a good impression.