Olympia Washington

What Happens When You Ruin Breakfast for Your Customer


Breakfast is your first and most important meal of the day, and the experience can have a pretty big impact on your travel adventures.

On a recent road trip, we took an unexpected pause in a cool little city that’s really defining its personality. Welcome to Olympia, Washington. I’d definitely visit again. One of my customer experiences however, not worth a repeat.

For our one morning there, we looked up on TripAdvisor for a recommended breakfast stop. Destination: A trendy diner.

A restaurant with a cool vibe with tons of personality. Then we ordered. Then it got disappointing.

Here’s what went wrong, in four fantastic ways:

  • Not as advertised. I ordered an omelette that boasted roasted red peppers. I LOVE roasted red peppers. When I dug into the meal, they had been replaced with uncooked green peppers. So really the opposite of what I ordered. I HATE green peppers.
  • No quality check. At no point after the meals were served did anyone come by and ask if everything was OK. Sure, a few servers walked by our table but not one made a pitstop to check in on us.
  • Not listening. My date has a celiac allergy, meaning NO GLUTEN. None. Zero. We notified the server who said the side of hash browns couldn’t be guaranteed fryer. To be safe, we didn’t go with them. When the meal came out, it was covered in gluten-worrisome hash browns. They apologized and took the plate back…only to return it with some of the unswept hash browns still hidden under the meal. Yep, still a problem.
  • Not a team effort. Remember when I mentioned staff walked by? Well they did, and that’s all they did. No ask for refills. No clearing of plates. Nada. Just because it isn’t their table, doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the experience.

So in many ways, this diner ruined our first Olympia breakfast. Whether they intended to or not, they communicated through their actions:

  • A lack of caring, by our server or any other member of the service staff.
  • A lack of compassion for a serious allergy.
  • A lack of consideration by changing ingredients without telling the customer (I really do HATE green peppers)

And what happens with the customer after an experience like this?

  1. The customer won’t return. There’s far too much competition out there to take a risk on another bad experience. Local or tourist, should be treated the same.
  2. The customer will tell everyone they know. Though I’m a traveller and probably won’t be back that way again, I’ll probably tell every person I know going through Washington. I see it going like this: “Hey, you going to Washington? Don’t go to this place. Oh, not to Olympia? Advice still stands.”
  3. The customer will write about it. Whether a blog (like this one), a TripAdvisor review, Yelp, Reddit or other platforms, a customer will write an online and searchable (Google-able) piece of content that future patrons can find when making their breakfast decisions.

When a customer experience is bad, it not only reflects on the business but also the entire community for tourists. This experience will be forever linked to Olympia. Not bad for one little breakfast. I’m sure that’s not the hope of their tourism department.

Show you care. Present some compassion. Demonstrate consideration.

All I wanted was a tasty local breakfast in a cool town with a fond memory. All any traveller wants.

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