Customer experience can make or break a place. Being treated with the most care can turn sidewalk dining into a 5-star experience. Inversely, bad service can make the grandest of hotels the last place on earth you’d want to return to. On my recent visit to Bali, I had a customer experience so amazing that it actually made me write to head office. Here’s what I said:
I know that The Ritz-Carlton are always looking for customer service stories and heroes. Well, you certainly have a bunch of heroes at La Spiaggia.
We decided to have lunch there on a day that was rainy, stormy and windy. The welcome we received on our arrival brightened our day up enormously.
Gusti, with the biggest smile in Bali, greeted us to this lofty perch above the crashing waves, and he and his three colleagues, Nyman, Watan and Mario delivered one of the best customer experiences I have ever known. We got there at 1:00pm and were still there at 6:30pm, despite it being pitch dark. The bar normally closes at dusk (5:00pm) but these boys were firm believers, and kept repeating to me, "the customer is always right," and that's the way The Ritz-Carlton do things. We stayed there enjoying a bottle (or two!) of Orvieto Classico followed by a couple of beers. As the afternoon grew on we had a severe attack of the munchies and asked if there might be some potato chips around their bar to nibble on. Before I knew it, the chefs had disappeared, gone up the cable car, went into the kitchen in the main restaurant, baked their own chips…and brought them to our table in a flash.
What a great afternoon. We didn't want to leave but glancing up at the moon and stars we knew this lunch had to end! We promised to return two days later.
The team at La Spiaggia welcomed us Monday afternoon as if welcoming friends to their home. The weather this time was warm, the sky was bright blue, and the waves of the ocean lapped peacefully to the shore. And there was Gusti…pouring a beer in exactly the way I had shown him (no real head) and wearing a huge smile as he presented us with a bowl of potato chips to go along with our pre-lunch beer. He told me he bought the potato chips at the market on his way to work that morning to make us happy. He then conjured up a bottle of exactly the same Orvieto we had been drinking at our first lunch, chilled to exactly the right temperature, and served us with pleasure and pride.
"Never give the customer what they want, give them what they never dreamed possible." Your team did that in spades.