When it comes to gaining loyalty from restaurant patrons, chain restaurants need to deliver consistent experiences. After all, as consumers have so many options when it comes selecting a restaurant, it's critical for chain restaurants to provide diners with dependable experiences that offer friendly and efficient service, quality food, and good value. Word-of-mouth also plays a significant role in influencing restaurant patrons. My family and I have had a few recent experiences with chain restaurants that altered our perceptions of the brands and offer a few lessons about the criticality of consistency.My daughter Caroline recently celebrated a birthday and asked if we could all go out to dinner at a national chain restaurant our family likes that serves Italian food. Historically, we've had excellent experiences with this restaurant chain. In fact, the combination of consistently strong service, quality food, and good value have persuaded us to endure reasonable wait times for a table. That's because we've considered our visits to these restaurants to be special occasions. Until recently.
Our experience at a local restaurant was anything but special. There were two primary problems - the waiter seemed to be completely inept and the quality of our food was mediocre. But the core problem was the waiter - it inexplicably took an extra 25 minutes for him to bring our son his Caesar salad and the waiter seemingly disappeared for long stretches of time while we waited for our food. In fact, when we were comp'd for a couple of free desserts by the manager after two of our entrees weren't prepared properly, the waiter forgot to bring us to-go boxes as we'd requested. Our interminable dining experience was stretched out even further.
This past weekend, we decided to stop at a different chain restaurant we've tried a few times before. This one specializes in Buffalo chicken wings. The last time we had visited this particular restaurant location was nearly a year ago and I still have an irksome recollection of the poor service we had received from the waiter we had that night. Our overall experiences with this restaurant chain haven't been as consistent as the Italian food chain but we decided to give it a shot anyway.
This time, the service was better. However, the quality of the food was poor. The wings - which should be focal point of this chain's offerings - were rubbery and fatty. The other items we ordered were no better.
Here are my takeaways from these two dining experiences. We're unlikely to visit the restaurant chain that specializes in Buffalo wings anytime soon, if ever again. Comparable experiences have steered us away from other chain restaurants. We would, however, be willing to give the Italian restaurant chain another shot based on our track record of positive experiences. But we'll be avoiding our local restaurant out of fear of being paired with the bungling waiter.