good customer service from bad customer service

Black Swan to White Swan pt. 2 – Guest Post from Adrian Charlie

Adrian Charlie’s last guest post took us down a dark path of bad customer service. Can part two take us to a land of engagement, leadership and assistance? Read on:

The next morning I found a DM from Swans: “The GM of Swans, Janina Ceglarz, would like to address your issue personally. Please call xxx-xxxx, or tweet your # & she will call you asap.”

I called Janina in the morning and she listened to my 15-20 minute re-cap of what happened. Janina did not interrupt me a single time, she listened, expressed empathy and agreed with me. Her first words after my rant, “First off, I am very sorry for what you have gone through.” She later admitted the staff could have handled things much better. She provided me with several examples of what she would have done differently, including “Hello folks I’m sorry to ask, we have a large party coming in and in exchange for your table, please allow me to buy you a round of drinks.” I thought “WOW, Janina is a customer service all-star!!” She had several other examples, she finished with “I am going to ensure all staff receives coaching on how to handle these types of situations.”

good customer service from bad customer service

Did we get a white swan result? Maybe the promise of one?

Janina added, “The only part that bothers me is that you left without seeing the bill first. In the future, if this happens at any establishment, pay the bill and ask to speak with the GM the next day.” Janina offered me a gift certificate in the amount of my original bill and she invited me back. She made me feel like I was being invited back to someone’s home. She had a nurturing, caring approach to her customer service. It makes me wonder, are customer service all-stars born? Or are customer all-stars trained? A combination of the two?

Janina did everything possible to turn things around for me: she listened, she expressed empathy, she made a promise and delivered on that promise, she invited me back, and she even asked me to give her a head’s up if I do return so she can meet me.

Lessons learned from my story: pay the bill in full, leave no tip and ask for a general manager the next day. Never back away from providing constructive feedback to a business, including positive feedback. The situation listed above is an opportunity for the business to turn things around and train their staff on how to better.

Thanks for sharing this Adrian. Sounds like the manager stepped up, but was it enough? Will you go back? Should you?

I asked Adrian to rate this and he gave it a Booty Call – If I don’t have anything else better going on, I’ll stop by. This obviously would have been a lower grade if not for the GM’s engagement. Unfortunately, it might have been a “too little, too late” scenario (though you should pay your bill before leaving no matter the service).


  • I love happy endings! And what an amazing GM! I think people can be trained to have good customer service but I think the training begins when they are really young, teaching respect for other people. Its really that simple, show respect and you will be given it in return. From what I read, if you had been offered 2 free drinks (a total of what, $10?) you would have been more than happy to move for them. Glad it all worked out though and that you will be going back, Swans has good food and for the most part a really good atmosphere 🙂

  • Adrian Charlie

    @EB I stare at the gift certificate on my fridge every day wondering whether I will return. I feel like an ex-bf with a chip on my shoulder. How awkward would it be if I receive the same wait staff? What if I receive bad service again?? I don’t think I could handle it! Worst yet, what if they give me an all-star performance, do I return and continue to recommend Swan’s? It’s something I think about frequently, like I need to work up the courage to return. NOT the ideal feelings to have when deciding which place to have some appies and drinks! lol

    I thought about doing a giveaway, but my name is on the gift certificate. In any case I’m thrilled with the way Janina handled things. The gift certificate came along with a written letter of apology and brief follow-up to our phone call, it was a nice personal touch.

  • @Adrian I am very glad that I was able to help you and I do hope you will do as we discussed in the future – it is always a big help when we get comments so that we can improve our service. And please do come to Swans and enjoy your gift certificate. You are still very much welcome here at Swans. – Janina

    • Adrian Charlie

      Thank you Janina, I was very pleased with the outcome. The best thing any business can do is listen to the customer first. Sarah and I were talking about coming in soon, I will let you know when we make the trip.

  • EB, Adrian and Janina – thanks for the comments. The commentary trifecta: audience, writer and subject all sharing their thoughts.
    This has been a great demonstration of how a business can diminish a bad experience. A full 180 degree turn might not be possible but reaching out, engaging and offering solutions is a fantastic way to start changing minds and building relationships. If Adrian does go back, it’ll be because of Janina…not Swans.

  • Adrian Charlie

    Swans Victoria has failed me for the last time. Thank you for allowing me to post the final post in this tragic customer service trilogy Russel. <–My "gift certificate" expired 10 days after I received it.

  • Boo Hoo Adrian.  None of this would have happened without your flawed decision to leave half the bill.  Everything else (before that) was something everyone has probably experienced in a busy establishment.  It isn’t great, but it happens.  Just because you have $54 in disposable income doesn’t mean you should expect to be treated like a King every time.  “You take the good, you take the bad, you take ’em both and there you have the Facts of Life” — or something like that.

    Suck it up princess.

    • Couldn’t disagree more John regarding the “Just because you have $54 in disposable income doesn’t mean you should expect to be treated like a King every time.” It shouldn’t matter if I have $3 or $33,000, I should be delivered good (great would be better) customer service. There’s too much competition out there for our dollars for businesses to do any less. If we live in a world of Tootie, Jo, Blair and Natalie (I’m all over your Facts of Life reference), we’re allowing for bad customer service to happen.

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