Last week I had lunch with someone that I had not seen in at least ten years and he reminded me of a story I had written in one of my newsletters that he still uses today when he mentor young attorneys.
I pulled it out and yes– the story is still very relevant today and I have seen it repeat itself in many situations over the years.
This story took place in 1999!!!!
"CUSTOMER LOYALTY AND A $1,000 PLATE OF PASTA"
Relationships with loyal customers can be ruined if they are taken for granted, and ultimately can affect our business. Here is an example of how someone lost sight of long-term goals for an unnecessary short-term gain.
One night I was having dinner with a client at one of my favorite restaurants. It always had good food and excellent service. We decided to split a pasta dish, because we weren't that hungry. We also ordered wine and two salads. I was surprised when the owner said to me, "I don't split pastas — even for YOU." My client and I could not believe how someone could be that impudent. Over the previous four years, I had spent more than $1,000 annually at that restaurant, and recommended it to many people.
I decided to order two plates of pasta so that we could continue our meeting. But that was the last meal I was going to eat there. One order of pasta ruined a long-term customer relationship.
This became the perfect story to use at my seminar the following night in New York, where I spoke to 500 people who came to learn about customer service and loyalty. At the end of my presentation, they asked me the name of the restaurant. In order to be diplomatic, I said to them, "I can't tell you the name; let me just say it's on 58th and First Avenue, right hand side on the corner." The restaurant is now under new ownership.