Customer loyalty: Don’t lose it over a lemon

Image for Customer loyalty: Don't lose it over a lemon postCustomer loyalty is a precious commodity for any business.

In my small town there is exactly one place to dine out for breakfast.  Consequently, nearly every resident could be considered a loyal customer of the place.  One of my neighbors actually goes there every day for breakfast and, when her at-home business gets very busy, she’s there for lunch most days as well.

It’s the type of place where you order at the counter and then they bring your order to the table. 

My friend’s favorite lunch is a scoop of tuna salad, with lemon on the side that she can squeeze over it.  Recently, the new counter clerk gave my friend a really thin slice of lemon, so thin it could not actually be squeezed onto the tuna–it was not squeezable.  My friend asked for another slice, and was actually given a really squeezable wedge of lemon.  However, when it was time to pay, the clerk charged her 50 cents for the lemon wedge. When my friend inquired if that was accurate–she’d never been charged before–the clerk consulted with the owner/chef in the back room.  Yes, the clerk said when she returned, she had to charge 50 cents for the lemon wedge.

My friend was taken aback…so far aback that she vowed not to return to this one-and-only town eatery.  Not for her daily breakfasts. Not for her occasional daily lunchtime spurts.  She made this vow even though any other option would be a 15-minute drive away, making it a half-hour round trip that her busy days could ill afford. 

Would you jeopardize customer loyalty over 50 cents?

My frequent customer friend can well afford 50 cents, but that’s not the point, is it? What would you have done, either as the customer or the restaurant manager, in this situation?

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