Over the recent holiday period, Rashid and I spent a few days up in Byron Bay, the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales.

We’re always, more unconsciously than consciously on the look out for topics for our newsletter, and we certainly did get some inspiration during our time off.

This year we felt that we’d like to spend some time with our very good friend Paul Godden. We’ve been friends for some years now, and both of us have grown very fond of Paul.

On Boxing Day night, we thought we’ll go out and have dinner at a local Pub where one of Paul’s friends and his band were playing. This sounded like a good idea so off we went.

Usually, but it is also changing, Pub dinners are relatively cheap and most of the time really good value for money.

We arrived at the place and looked at the restaurant.  Real table cloths, real serviettes, ok – this is not going to be our average $20 steak, mash and veggie place, but what the heck, it’s Boxing Day after all.

We were lead to our table, not that we had booked one, and we did get lucky because the place was packed.

Looking at the menu, our perception of ok – this is an upmarket sort of place was confirmed. Now we both don’t mind paying decent money for decent food, but after all it was a pub and you can’t really judge a book by its cover.

So here we were, trying to figure out whether we should go for something “adventurous” such as seafood risotto with some fancy sauce or should we play safe and go for fish and chips sort of thing? Well we all decided to play it safe, by the way, next time around I would head for the adventure. (But hindsight is always twenty/twenty).

So the dish came and it looked really great except for the fact that I had ordered vegetables instead of chips. But the place was busy, there was a big garden salad that came with my meal so I didn’t bother complaining. I don’t mind a couple of pieces of potatoes anyway.

The food was good, there was no doubt about it.

The waitress, who took the order from us, came to clear the table and instantly realised that I hadn’t been given my vegetables as originally asked for.

She apologised profusely and asked me if she I would like to have a cup of tea or coffee to compensate for the mistake. I very happily accepted and the three of us were very impressed with the level of customer service and professionalism the whole thing was handled.

We saw her talking to the chef in the kitchen, assuming that she was informing him that there had been a mistake with one of the orders.

As I went to pay the bill, the chef was there apologising for the mistake as well. Catherine, our waitress who was standing there, explained to me that I was actually talking to her manager.

Wow – I was taken aback.

“Now are you telling me that the manager in this place is equally accountable and is being told for the mistakes he’s making just like everyone else?”, I asked still rather stunned.

“Yes, this is how we operate and this is what we believe in. Nobody is perfect and in order to improve our customer experience and growing our business – this is what we do”, he responds.

Well now I was lost for words.  There are not many businesses where there is a culture of improvement – and that you can actually “call your manager on his mistakes”.

Could you do this in your business?  If you’re the boss, do your employees feel they can question your actions and judgement without getting their heads bitten off?

I strongly believe that too many businesses still lack customer focus or as Robert Allen, the world famous author many books calls it, being customer centric.

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