I have a fish and chip restaurant and takeaway near me called The Fish Club. It’s not cheap but the fish is caught daily and cooked fresh, a far cry from your normal grease-covered cod ‘n’ chips.

I was in there on Friday and overheard a conversation between who I assume to be the manager and a customer on the end of the phone. From what I could gather, an order for two portions of fish and chips had been delivered, but was missing a small tub of tartar sauce.

As you would expect, the manager was apologetic but then did something unexpected…

Customer (assumed): “My delivery has arrived but it’s missing the tarter sauce”

Manager: “I’m so sorry, as soon as the delivery person returns I’ll send them straight out with a tub. It’ll be about 5 minutes. Also I’ll write your name down so next time you come in we’ll give you a complimentary meal.”

Not a bad gesture for the sake of forgetting a £1 tub of tartar sauce. It gets better…

Manager: “Actually by the time its delivered (5 minutes…remember) your fish won’t be hot. We’ll send you two new portions straight away. We pride ourselves on running a premium service and that includes making up for our mistakes.”

That’s giving away over £20 worth of food (like I said it’s not cheap) for the sake of forgetting a £1 tub of sauce. Why? Because they know that customer will never order fish and chips from anywhere else. And neither will I.

Often in PR and marketing we focus so much on generating ideas to get new customers that we forget to look at how a business should go about keeping them. It’s an obvious thing to say, but the most effective way of doing that is by creating a truly amazing customer experience…even if the source of that experience is a complaint.

Brands spend millions of pounds over many years growing a customer base, it would be a shame to let all that money go to waste over a £1 tub of tartar sauce.

  • Tim C

    Very true, and something often forgotten in chain-controlled customer service environments, as the “big boys” head offices don’t give site managers any leeway to solve problems in this fashion.

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