The Customer Service faux-pas at 'ZA

Back in June, I had visited and blogged about my experience at 'ZA Pizza in Broad Ripple. While I enjoyed the pizza, I felt it was pricey and had to wait too long for my food.

In regards to the long wait, I remember using Twitter at the time it was happening and I posted a Tweet at the 25 minute mark. 3 minutes later we got our first piece and just a bit afterwards we got the second piece. I could be off 1 minute, but not much more. I remember determining the time by the first text message I received on my phone after ordering.

Well, Today I received a message on my Facebook account. It reads:

Bullshit did you wait 28 minutes to get two slices at 'ZA.I own the place,remember you being there and don't appreciate your embellishment about the time you waited.

Michael Keenan

Wow! What a way to handle a customer satisfaction issue!

Not only has he sealed my my fate about ever visiting, he has motivated me to use my social network to, once again, describe my experience.

I also saw a similar customer dissatisfaction experience posted at Urbanspoon. One of the comments reads:

The pizza was good...till the owner asked our opinion. We told him the pizza wa good, but for $4.50 a slice? What a rip-off! I went to school in Bloomington at IU. We got the same excellent pizza there, at Rocket's Pizza for $2.00! Long story short, the owner didn't like that and tried to pick a fight. This place won't last long at those prices. Bye-bye Za.
Ironically, I recently posted about a great book I read, "What Would Google Do?" In which the author describes that this was the exact opposite response that the store owner should have had.....because social networkers typically blast their "networks." Good or Bad.

THE VOID: (missed opportunity) I had nothing to gain by posting my experience. However, as a customer and a social networker, it makes complete sense to present my opinion and impression of the place.

He missed an opportunity!

Instead of trying to regain me as a customer in a way that would make me blog, post, tweet about such a positive experience, he chose to "pick a fight" as the other commenter mentioned.

I recommend that the owner embrace social networks as a place to market. I wonder if the chefs that helped design his menu know how he handles customers.

His business must be able to purely survive on the late night transactional deal. At 3AM people just want food, so the service is second.

Because of the owner's very negative attitude, the people that use Broad Ripple as a intra-city vacation destination will choose to go elsewhere. The will decide to eat at places known for better pizza, better prices, but most importantly, better customer service.

'Za on Urbanspoon


Mark & Kirsten said...

I can't believe that a business owner could be that stupid! Clearly he is unfamiliar with the phrase 'the customer is always right'. And that is especially important in this age of social networking. I certainly won't ever go there.

Bo Stephens said...

Guess I don't have to go there now. Thank you for this post.

Sarah said...

Even if the pizza is delicious, I don't want to give that fool my money! There's plenty of other pizza in this town.

Phil Lavoie said...

Oh, this is fun. I just found my Tweet from that day.

Tweet from 'ZA

Sean A. Maltais said...

I don't care how good the food is, I wouldn't go there after the owner said that.

Andrew Hill said...

With an attitude like that, I doubt he'll stay in business long...

jbuzzell said...

YIKES! I don't live in Indy, but I'll tell my MIL not to go there.

Monte said...

I've never been there. Now I see no need to. Thanks Phil.

scottysbrewhouse said...

what a great post/article. this goes against everything i believe in for a restaurant manager to act this way. but, for an owner? that is horrible.

you know the addage, "a scorned customer will tell 10 people about his poor experience; but, a positive experience he may only tell 1?" well, those were the days before social media. a "bad" experience can lead to someone telling their online community of 100's and then be "re-tweeted" to 1,000's.

the only thing that worries me in the social networked world is for the customer to not give a business a chance to correct their mistake. we are all human and make them daily. i teach my people that we will bend over backwards to turn a mistake into our most loyal guest by fixing the problem better than ever thought possible. i just hope with the advent of yelp, twitter and the dozens of other online communities, people aren't too quick to judge. first tweet, facebook or email me about the problem. then, if i don't fix it, i'm rude or unresponsive... time to let your voice be heard by the masses.

just my thoughts and opinions. keep up the good work on this blog! great read.


happy dining!

hazelmoon said...

Seems that the chance to be "too quick to judge" goes out the window when you wait close to half an hour for a slice of pizza :) While I think Scotty makes a good point, it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the owner of the place apparently went out of his way to be a jerk. Slow service can be chalked up to any number of things, but *bad* service is a whole 'nother thing, and this guy took it to a whole new level. Using profanity to a customer? Seriously? At least the wait staff at Bazbeaux is polite, even if you rarely see your server :)

wouldibuyitagain said...

Interesting to have a restaurant owner’s opinion here. I saw Scotty’s received a lukewarm review once on a tenderloin and he said that he is going to “fix it or dye trying. “ What restaurant owners seem to forget is that they can use social media to their advantage and in this case, Scotty’s continues to do that. Before reading his comments, visiting Scotty’s was not on my radar, but seeing the dedication that people have their, now it is.

Re: ZA. Just unbelievable. Any restaurant would usually take the opportunity to make good on things, this one was just slammed shut.

Phil Lavoie said...

Scottysbrewhouse, Thanks for the insight. I think that as a restaurant owner, you "get" it.

I remember I ordered the a certain fish dish at Scotty's, the waitress and I think the menu (at the time) warned about bones. I still ordered it and yep, there were bones.

When we were going to pay, the waitress asked how our meals were and I said great, except that there were indeed bones in the dish. She came back a few minutes later with a $5 off coupon for my next dish.

This was a case of empowerment at its finest. She knew I enjoyed my meal but wasn't 100% satisfied. She had also been authorized to do what it took!

This is why Scotty's is one of my favorite places to go. (Oh and it doesn't hurt they have AMAZING Wings and Ribs!!!!)

I'll be sure to post on Scotty's soon. It really is a great experience and they use social networks in a great way.

Be sure to follow Scotty at @Brewhouse on Twitter! He is known to send out Twitter Coupons!

Monte said...

I can back up Scotty's comments. I am a (all too) frequent guest at Scotty's on the north side. It is always an absolutely phenomenal experience. I crave mofo like it's crack.

scottysbrewhouse said...

thank you all for your kind comments here. i would never admit that we are perfect, God knows i'm not and we make lots of mistakes daily.

and, i don't get mad at my staff for making mistakes, as long as they learn from them and correct them.

it seems like such a simple concept to me. we are in the business of service. and, if we can't provide it, someone else will. but, with many business fighting over limited dollars, we must work harder, faster, smarter and give our guests what they ask for.

we use a funny saying, "even when they are wrong, the customer is always right."

anyway, i could type all day about this topic. i just wanted to thank all of you for your input and business.

at heart, i'm just a local indiana boy working hard with a very talented, smart team around me that just makes me look a lot smarter than i am. :)


Gastroholic said...

I was having a very interesting conversation ( a pitch actually) a few days ago. I was attempting to explain my point of view on why the restaurant business has a substantially higher rate of failure than most businesses. For me, it boils down to this. Not everyone is "built" to operate a restaurant. People think that owning a restaurant is just about the most romantic thing in the world, and it can be, if you realize that most of the time, it is extremely demanding. When I was in culinary school, I had no less than 5 senior citizens in my class that had absolute plans to open a restaurant immediately upon graduation, as a "second" career. (I wonder where they are now)
To provide hospitality to your guests is simple when EVERYTHING else is going hunky dory. The fact is that in the biz, things are NEVER hunky dory. There is always an "emergency" and more often times then not, there is really an EMERGENCY. Not everyone has the customer service skills that they think they have, and just because you make a mean lasagna doesn't mean you can manage a team of 10, and try to get them to make the same lasagna, the same way, all of the time, and then add 70 other recipes to the mix. A tendency for Chaos is a restaurants nature, and an operators ability or inability to manage that chaos is the ultimate equalizer. It is sad that even something as simple as addressing a customer complaint was met this way. Address the issue head on and MAKE IT RIGHT.

I really like to watch war films. And, I think I am a pretty tough dude. But I know that if I were in a war, I'd get my ass shot off.

Phil Lavoie said...

@Gastroholic Very well said! I know you are one of the restaurateurs that get it. The last time we came into your place you actually seemed pretty busy but still took the time to see that we were having fun and enjoying our experience. I'm looking forward to your new adventure with eager anticipation.

Now, you just need to get on Top Chef so that people know that good food can indeed come from fly-over country.

Anonymous said...

Phil you sound like a baby!!! I too doubt you waited a half hour for your pizza. And it might be a little pricey but how much do you think rent is in that location? I would guess $30/sq ft. I will continue to eat there because it is good and I've never had a problem.

Phil Lavoie said...

@Anonymous You are so right. Expensive rent does indeed justify mediocre pizza and rude customer service. I'll have to revisit someday. Maybe after management changes hands.

Thanks for your insight.

Anonymous said...

interesting reading all of this,even a few years later. with dealing with this guy in the industry, it fits to a "t" what he acts like... it's pretty incredible that things are still hanging on. he is actually opening a new spot downtown, so i am anxious to read your review on it! only unfortunate thing is that you would have to invest your money into his business to get a review... so i guess it probably won't happen.