Customer Service Hell Blog

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Sonny's BBQ #1 Poor Customer Service & Excellent Response By Management

A BBQ Night Out On The 4th Of July
- Poor Experience With Customer Service,
followed by Excellent Response By Management:

July 4th, 2004

I really enjoy Sonny's. Being from Western Canada, I had never had the opportunity to enjoy such fare in our neck of the woods up North.

My husband and his family are Floridians and I was absolutley delighted when they took me to Sonny's in the Lake Mary region explaining that while living in the South, one had to try Sonny's. It's like a rite of passage for visting the state.

In any event - we had a poor experience at our visit yesterday to the Sonny's on SW College Drive. We came early to avoid the line-ups that we were sure would occur on the Fourth of July holiday. We apparently arrived in the middle of the shift-change. However - the restaurant had about 20 empty tables. It also looked like there was a complete staff of servers. This is why it was mysterious to us, as to why we had to stand around for several minutes before being attended to by a server to seat us.

However - the waiting did not end there. For about 4-5 minutes while we stood waiting to be seated, 2 of the servers debated where to seat us. The debate continued with it looked like a manager. When they finally made up their mind where to seat us in a half- empty restaurant it was explained that they were "just trying to be fair" to the servers. The server who seated us attempted to put us at the table and then grimaced when we asked if we could sit at one of the 8 or so empty booths instead.

We then sat and waited and waited for a server to come to take our order for either food or something to drink. We waited while they served two other parties at two other tables. We then waited and watched while a server proceeded to take the order of people who had come into the restaurant after us while we had not even seen our waiter.

My husband and I work hard for our money. If we are going to spend $40.00 on a night out, in celebration with our son, the very least we would expect from serving staff is to not wait to be seated, and to watch other patrons being served while we have not even seen our waiter.

We left the Sonny's and drove 15 minutes to the other Sonny's in Ocala. My son had his heart set on BBQ. So we decided to try again at a different location. The service at the 2nd restaurant was excellent and so was the food. Our waiter was just excellent by comparison to the service we have gotten on the 4 other occasions that we went to the SW College Drive Sonny's.

I've worked in the food service industry in the past. I am not a particularly fussy patron. But what I saw at the First Sonny's location definatlety indicated to me, based on my experience that you need a new manager there. Despite the fact that the restaurant was 1/2 empty and there was a full complement of Staff, the serving team wasn't able to do their job properly. They also didn't have the same kind of hussle or concern as the staff at the other Sonny's.

I just thought you would like to know about our experience, as we are dedicated customers and will continue to patronize your establishments and don't want to go through another experience like we did yesterday.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Dissatisfied Customer

*Update* : Emailed Response in less than 2 days from Management/Owners of Sonny's

Dear Madam,

I just received your comment on your service at Sonny's on College road. Please accept my apologies. I am certainly embarassed and dissappointed that this happened to you and your family. I greatly appreciate you giving us another try at our other location. This is incredible to me and I am truely thankful that you were so forgiving.

I personally went to that location and ate lunch today and I too noticed a lack of friendliness and urgency. I am confident that we will be able to resolve this quickly with frequent visits and some retraining of staff and management.

Thank you so much for the heads up and giving us an opportunity to solve a problem that certainly will have a negative impact on our business. Please send me your address, my Area Director is on vacation but I'm sure he will want to follow up with you in the future.
Thanks again for your consideration and patronage.

Chip Dixon

Further Followup: A week later, Sonny's sent us a gift certificate for a free meal and urged us to try the first location again to show they had fixed the problems with the customer service. We went, and the service had definatley improved.


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