How Chili’s Handled A Tiny Customer Complaint: They Did Right By Me

It’s so interesting how the internet has changed the way we do things. A few weeks ago I had a really bad experience with Chili’s. I talked to the manager there, and little was done to make me feel warm and fuzzy about my experience. So, I blogged about it. I wrote up every detail about our experience. It wasn’t exactly a rant, but I needed to express my feelings about the evening.

You all were awesome in the comments and suggested I do more, such as write a letter to the corporate headquarters. I wasn’t out for any freebies, but like one commentator said, I may find myself at Chili’s thanks to the cravings of my pregnant wife, and if I do happen to go back, would I want to experience the same bad service and bad food that I got with the initial visit? Absolutely not, so I had to let Corporate know so they could fix the problem.

Instead of writing a letter, I decided to tweet the Chili’s account and let them know that way, and point them to the blog post. After a few more tweets (maybe the account isn’t monitored as actively as I would expect from a national chain) I got a response from a Chili’s representative asking me to email them letting them know what happened, stating that they wanted to make things right.

That response right there made me feel better about the experience already. What is it about someone simply responding that makes things all better again? But Chili’s didn’t stop there and I got a phone call from the Chili’s headquarters in Texas. They wanted to clarify some things and formally apologize. They said they would be sending me an apology letter and some credit vouchers so my family could go back to Chili’s and they could make things right. Then I got a call from the Chili’s general manager in my area, again apologizing and letting me know that what we experienced is not how they normally do things.

The letter and vouchers arrived earlier this week and my wife suggested we go to a different Chili’s, so last night we did just that.

The experience was completely different. We arrived just before 5PM which could have attributed to the better service, but as soon as we were seated our waitress came to the table and did her thing. My wife is shy and doesn’t like talking to people, but as the waitress left, my wife actually said, “I like her, she’s nice”

Way to go Chili’s waitress, Stacy! To win over my wife that quick is a huge accomplishment!

All through the night, Stacy was very attentive to our needs and did a great job. The atmosphere at this Chili’s was much more like what I would expect and we enjoyed ourselves. The restaurant was very clean, hostess was on the ball and it was the complete opposite of the experience we had prior.

The way things are done now is very different than in the past. Customers now have an open forum and direct contact with companies via Twitter, Facebook and blogs all thanks to the Internet. This is a great asset to companies that can get onboard. Every company makes mistakes, but it’s how companies deal with mistakes, especially now that everyone can see the whole conversation, that sets one company apart from another.

While I don’t see us going back to that first Chili’s restaurant for a while, I can’t completely write-off the company because of the way they handled what could have been brushed off as a tiny little incident.

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15 People have left comments on this post



» Kevin @ Thousandaire.comNo Gravatar said: { Nov 5, 2010 - 01:11:20 }

Customer service FTW!

This makes me like Chili’s even more (not that I had a problem with them before). Everyone is going to make mistakes. This shows that they are willing to make it right. If this happened all the time, they wouldn’t go so far out of their way to make sure you gave them a second chance.

I also applaud you for posting this. It only seems fair after how Chili’s did exactly what they were supposed to do to win you back. I think you should tweet this link to Chili’s as well and let them know that they’ve done a good job.

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RobertNo Gravatar Reply:

I live in LA I`m Disable Vet USMC & I`m in wheel Chair , So I called & ordered some Chow for me & myBoddy who also Disable Vet Igot there to pick up the food but win I got there my Wheel Chair lift in the van jamed & I could not get inside to get the food so I called & explained to them the probliem so they sounded like they did not want to help so I had to Explain to them again let them know there is no way for me to come in & get the food finally they agreed to come bring the food & get the cash Finaly I get home & feew boddyshappen to be out & about helped me with the lift & PICKED ME & THE WHEELCHAIR I get inside we open the food & the order was all Wrong so I call & ask for manager I explain to him what happen & all I`m thinking he going to apolgize or somthing insted this man started talk ing BS & started saying all kind of BS about Disable Wheel Chair people & SO ON SO when I tryed to talkhe hung up so me personaly & alot of my Boddys from the service we desided not to go to CHILLIS &we going to finds other place to hung out & eat at after this experiance I do not think any one can blame me. Truly Yours big Robb USMC. from LA California Thank you

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» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 5, 2010 - 01:11:39 }

@Kevin

Yep, it’s only fair! They went above and beyond. I tweeted them the post, and a virtual pat on the back for the waitress. I hope they reach out to her and commend her for a job well done.

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» Car Negotiation CoachNo Gravatar said: { Nov 5, 2010 - 05:11:22 }

J-Man, Well done….I’m all about letting a company know if they did something wrong (so they can correct it and maybe you get lucky….like you did). Also, as a business owner, I appreciate it when people point things out so I can fix what’s broken.

On a side note- Danish is starting tomorrow. I’ll be in touch w/ how it goes!

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Coach, thanks man. I just had to after hearing what commentators pointed out, my wife may eventually want to go back and I don’t want to have the same problems!

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» KenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 6, 2010 - 04:11:31 }

By the looks of Chili’s twitter page, they seemed to have become much more active since August. Looks like they’re putting more emphasis on using Twitter as a PR tool.

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

@Ken
Yea, it’s great to see people interacting versus just lurking on Twitter. It’s a conversation meant to interact and engage, not a magic bullet.

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» SquirrelersNo Gravatar said: { Nov 8, 2010 - 05:11:41 }

I think that both you and Chili’s handled the situation well.

In re-reading through your prior post ( I read it before and re-tweeted, but wanted to get refamiliarized with your episode there), I like how you mention that you’re normally very understanding and usually handle disappointing experiences at restaurants by not returning after a while. I just had a post on people who complain to extract from others, and it’s clear that you are NOT one of those:)

In light of that, Chili’s appeared to be really responsive to your terrible experience. I’m sure they realize they were wrong, AND don’t want a blogger to detail the terrible service they gave to an unsuspecting pregnant customer. Overall, it seems like they took the steps to make amends by showing they care, and you’re clearly appreciative, as evidenced by commending them.

Well done all around, after that initial bad experience.

You’ve succeeded me hungry, by the way!

Hey Chili’s – If you’re reading this, bring back that delicious Tejas Chicken Sandwich you once had on the menu!!!

:)

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» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 8, 2010 - 05:11:33 }

@Squirrel-man

I read your post (I’ve said it before and will say it again, I love that series my friend) and actually felt a bit guilty for having received hush money from Chilis but I really appreciate that you can tell I’m not one that does that as a sport. There are no guarantees in life and I know that going in.

As for Chilis, a tiny little blogger like myself could have been royally blown off by Chilis, no big deal. My single post would have faded into obscurity and we both would have moved on. But they really did take responsibility and were awesome, so I had to give them credit.

thanks my man, keep up the good work. And if you really want to petition for the Tejas Chicken, give @chilis a tweet :)

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» everyday tipsNo Gravatar said: { Nov 8, 2010 - 09:11:59 }

Great job! Don’t you love when someone actually listens!

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

ET, it really felt great when I learned he was able to save!

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» Khaleef @ KNS FinancialNo Gravatar said: { Nov 11, 2010 - 12:11:33 }

This is great! I like Chili’s and was hoping that they would make it right if given the chance. I hope they would do that to any customer and not just to a popular blogger!

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Popular? Thanks man, that really made my day ;)

I think that it only takes an initiative on the customer side to get results. If the customer just lets things go, like I was going to do initially, nothing will ever get resolved.

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» Glenn ScottNo Gravatar said: { Jan 11, 2013 - 08:01:34 }

This is great! I got a burned cinnamom stix from Papa John’s and never heard a word from them. They actually said they would get back to me too, gee, wonder when?

I got a coupon from Chili’s for a free chips and queso today 1/12/13 but it expired on 11/17/2008.

I give up on these people. I guess they try but more often than not they let you know that they just do not care about the customers. Actually maybe that’s for the better. The last time we ate there the food was too salty to be any good anyway.

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» ScottNo Gravatar said: { Apr 7, 2014 - 12:04:00 }

As admirable as it may be that Chili’s has their “causes”, it is despicable that they drive their agenda through deceit. I was just “blocked” from Chili’s FaceBook page, my commment removed which you can see here:

“Chili’s is becoming another Fox News outlet. I’m still incensed by their new policy of “no e-cigs permitted”. It’s fine that they have banned them. I get that…their choice, but…what is wrong is that they are telling their customers that the FDA has banned all e-cigs. This is an insult to customers who happen to be up on the news and know for a fact that they have not been banned by the FDA. When I asked Chil’s corporate for a copy of the FDA ban they essentially told me that as far as they were concerned the issue was closed, no need for further communication. I love how Chil’s has their head in the sand on so many issues and willingly misleads their customer base.

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