Thought Leadership + Practical Advice

When customer delight turns to disappointment…

Customer Frame Blogs - Blog 2 - When Customer Delight Turns to Disappointment_Sueanne + Pete_Featured Image

Earlier this week, we snuck out of the office for a milestone anniversary lunch (ssh, don’t tell the boss!). 

We chose somewhere special – not super expensive, but not your average lunch grub either.  

It was a special occasion after all.



On arrival, we were greeted + promptly shown to our table, which had sweeping views + a beautiful aspect. We ordered some bubbles, befitting of the occasion + settled in to chat.  

The staff were attentive, warm, friendly + congratulatory of our special occasion – in fact, everyone who tended our table congratulated us + had something lovely to say.  

We were chuffed.  

After just the right amount of time from ordering, our main courses arrived – except, we’d ordered entrees first. Disappointed, but not wanting to ruin the mood, we brushed the mistake aside, cancelled the entrees + started on our meals.  

[clever note: by establishing a rapport with the customer in the early moments of the experience (such as congratulating them on a special occasion, tending to their needs early, keeping eye contact with them in case they need anything), you build up the pool of love + forgiveness. So, when you then mess up by missing their entrees, they forgive you + move on without complaint – it doesn’t ruin their experience.]

The food was wonderful, the drinks were delicious + the warm, attentive service continued.



We were having a wonderful time, a delightful lunch befitting the milestone anniversary + the expectations + hopes we’d had for said occasion.  

In fact, it couldn’t get much better, we thought.  

Until the service attendant approached our table + said, 


“Can we offer you a complimentary dessert for your anniversary?

A chocolate brownie with ice-cream perhaps?” 

Wow. Ah, yes please!



Now, just a moment before the attendant approached us, we were speaking of finishing up lunch + heading back to the office. 

Then the offer of a complimentary dessert changed our minds. Perhaps we could stay a little while longer.

+ why not have coffee too, to go alongside said brownie.

[clever note: complimentary brownie not only delighted the customer but got them spending more money + more time at your establishment! #winning] 



We finished up our dessert + requested the bill, which was swiftly brought to our table – wonderful! No-one likes to have to wait ages for their bill – when you decide you want to leave, you want to leave, right?!  

The attendant approached our table carrying a mini IPad, which she promptly held out to show the amount, then waited patiently for us to hover the payment card over the device. 

“Oh, we don’t get an itemised bill?”, I enquired, realising the figure was more than I had expected.  

“Oh, I can get you one, if you need it! We took your oysters off the bill too, by the way!”, she said enthusiastically.  

[note: Ah, thanks? I’m glad you didn’t charge me for something I ordered but you didn’t actually bring! Shall I be thanking you for that, I wondered.]




Having graciously accepted the absence of an itemised bill, we paid + left the venue, once again warmly sent off by the lovely staff who were nothing short of fabulous.  

The ‘bill-thing’ slightly taking the shine off my experience, I asked Pete what the extra charge was.  

“Oh, it was an expensive bottle of wine”, he said, to which he added reluctantly on my insistence,  

“They charged us for the brownie. The ice-cream was complimentary.”



We paid for the ‘gift’ they offered us? 

The thing I wasn’t going to order? The thing that then saw me ordering coffee that I also wasn’t going to order?

Riiiiiiight….. well, that’s that then! 



This lovely establishment with their lovely staff + their gorgeous views took a delight moment + turned it into a disappointment moment. A downer moment.  

They took us on a journey where we were to leave as huge advocates, destined to return + tell everyone we knew + instead, we left deflated, confused + annoyed, destined unlikely to return, but of course, to still tell everyone we knew! 


It likely wasn’t intentional in any way, a mere admin slip, but few customers will pick you up on a mistake like this, too embarrassed to ask for the thing for free, that you offered to them for free. They’ll more likely pay, but they’ll never return.


Things can change in a blink of an eye.  

What should have been a wonderful reflection of this brand + their empathy + respect for their customers, turned into a Customer Loyalty disaster.



So friends, be careful when you offer a delight moment, that you take care to follow it through, to avoid it turning into a disappointment moment.  

You’ve worked so hard to delight your customers, don’t lose that effort by missing the detail – it’s not up to the customer to highlight your mistakes, it’s up to you.

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