Guideline or Customer Satisfaction?

When in India, I had heard a lot about punctuality of Japanese people. We had a joke going on in India: The ‘S’ in IST stands for 'Stretchable' and not for 'Standard'. So I was all praise for people who were punctual. But one of the experiences that I had here was nothing sort of craziness.
We went to a restaurant which serves buffet during 11 AM to 2 PM. Somehow we reached there at 5 minutes past two and were denied buffet and had to go for a-la-carte. How much we tried convincing the waitress that its only 5 minutes past and there is a lot of food to be consumed, still left at counter, she did not buzz.

Next time a friend of mine went to the restaurant and he too was denied buffet on the same ground. By luck, his watch was showing 1:59 PM. Since he had also been part of the group who were denied buffet earlier, he thought of getting even and showed the watch to the waitress, saying “Simmasen, it’s only 1:59 now." The waitress was left with no choice but to concede. And my friend had a good meal, making good for even the meal that he had missed on last visit. When he came back to office, he was all smiles partly on having a good meal and partly on craziness of the waitress.
Yesterday we went to an Indian restaurant. There the Lunch set timing was till 3 PM and we reached at 3:15. Having a prior experience, my friend (the same one with 1:59 PM experience) was very skeptical. But I had full faith on Indian timeliness and hospitality. Once seated, we asked for the Lunch set (Thali) and were given the similar answer – that of being late for the meal. But a smile and a sentence in Bangla did the trick. I asked him to check if they are still left with some inventory and here he was enquiring in the kitchen. Within no time, he was asking us what we would like to drink with the Thali – Lassi or Chai?

That took me to the good old days when we were in college. There was a restaurant – named Queens – serving delicious meal and whole of my group was a fan of it. It was in an obscure place and hence not many people used to visit it but those who used to be, were the regulars. The owner-cum-manager of the restaurant was an old Punjabi man, who had set the time for last entry as 9 30 PM and last order at 9 45 PM. We never reached the restaurant before 9:45 PM and without fail we were greeted with the words “The restaurant is closed, come tomorrow”. Then we used to play our card – the same one all the time – “Uncle, we were having classes and we rushed directly from the class and are very hungry”. The parent ego state would be come to the fore and he would make us sit but with a condition: “Whatever is left, you will have to eat and I am not going to ask my cook to make something fresh”. We all used to agree at once and he would order for us. Within 5 minutes we would ask “Uncle can we have this dish too?” And then there would be demand for another dish and he would oblige us forgetting the condition he had put earlier.

We used to have overdose of food as well as care and smile and at the end we were given 10% discount on our bill followed by some gift from the old man. Even today whenever I think of Ghaziabad, Queens is an unforgettable part of it.

Also makes me wonder – what comes first – the rule books or the convenience and pleasure of the customers? Well everyone is entitled to his own answer.

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