Who is the Customer Experience Manager for your customers?

Recently I had an experience that made me wonder who was in charge of the customers’ experience at an establishment.

The organization was a high-end San Francisco restaurant where I was a guest in a 10-person party at a hosted dinner. My hosts sat at the opposite end of the table.

At first, the servers seemed attentive and friendly. Because our menu was prearranged and paid for by our hosts, the manager even came to our table to greet us. All went well as we placed our orders and received our delicious appetizers.

Then came the entrees. The server plunked down a plate in front of me that was not what I ordered. When I pointed this out, he looked confused, but said the correct dish would be right out.

I watched as my fellow guests enjoyed their meals, some finishing theirs as I awaited mine. Finally, it arrived. It was not a difficult nor time-consuming dish to prepare. I wondered why it had taken so long, but didn’t want to make a fuss even though nearly everyone else was done.

The server came back for our dessert and coffee orders. In addition to dessert, I ordered hot chocolate. He came back with all the drinks, then soon each of my colleagues dishes were set in front of them. Not me. The server didn’t say a word as he disappeared. I assumed mine would be out shortly.

I waited as I heard my pals exclaim with delight over their first bites. One even asked if I was skipping dessert. I said no. The server was no where in sight.

Surely mine would be out soon. I watched as the others devoured their delectable desserts. Finally, when the waiter emerged from the kitchen, I asked where my dessert was. He said it would be out momentarily. As everyone else was finishing, mine was served. I told him it was unacceptable for him to make me wait for both my main meal and my dessert. He said he’d get the manager.

Ten minutes later the manager appeared and I explained what had happened. He was apologetic, and comped out coffees.

This whole scenario made me wonder whose responsibility it is to manage the customers’ experience. The managers? In a large restaurant, he can’t be micromanaging. The hosts? Perhaps. But ultimately it is the server’s job. Had he been more on the ball, if he knew he was short a dessert on the first pass, he would have ensured I was not skipped and served me the plate that he’d given to the host, since we’d ordered the same dessert.

Who in your organization is managing each customer’s experience? They should know what has happened with this customer in previous interactions and make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen twice. Some organizations assign customers a rep to work with them. Other organizations have a pool of customer service reps and the customer gets whomever answers the phone or email. That rep has little, if any, knowledge of previous challenges.

In your organization, how to do you ensure someone is in charge of your customers’ experience? And how do you make sure they are doing their job well?