Customer relations and public relations are very, very similar. Really, the only difference is that PR is meant
to reach a general population, whereas in customer relations, the population has greater definition – your customers!
The core mission of both is to keep your audience engaged, informed and happy.
Recently, I had dinner at one of my all-time favorite DC sushi restaurants – Saki in Adams Morgan. Their food happy hour is incredible – a party of four can gorge themselves on various rolls and pieces for under $10 a person – including drinks! I’ve gone there for well over a year, probably totaling 30-35 visits in that span. (What can I say? I like sushi!)
However, despite my love of their food and ambiance, it may be a long while before I go back.
During my last visit, I experienced a major, major customer relations fail.
The waitress came to our table to remind us of the happy hour food and drink specials and take beverage orders. One of our friends ordered a beer, another a Diet Coke. My wife stuck with water and then it was my turn.
I politely asked if they served Sprite Zero.
[Background: Sprite Zero is the no-calorie version of Sprite. Tastes good enough, fills the carbonation need without sugar or caffeine. Available in every supermarket, convenience store and gas station in the United States, with an increasing presence in vending machines. Recently, a growing number of quick-casual restaurants have begun carrying it as a fountain drink. And some sit-down restaurants serve it. So, Sprite Zero is a common beverage.]
The waitress squinted her eyes, made a face and said “Are you SERIOUS?”
I didn’t ask for any of the following items:
- Monkey blood
- Pig urine
- Crystal Pepsi (now THAT was NASTY)
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- An expensive bottle of wine
No, I asked for a highly-distributed beverage from the Coca Cola Company.
Instead of kindly saying with a smile, “Sorry we don’t carry that,” or “Oh man, I love that, but we don’t have any in stock,” I was snapped at.
I then asked if they had iced tea, another beverage commonly available around the globe. Naturally, they did not.
The real shame of it is that I’ve been a brand ambassador for them. When friends come to visit, we take them to “the best sushi place in town!” It’s one of our go-to haunts.
And, unfortunately, for the next little while, whenever anyone asks me if I want to go there, my only answer will be, “are you serious?”
For the record: Yes. Yes, I was.
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