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Service Excellence..."Thai Style"

Blog by Terri Knox | February 1st, 2010

Happy 2010! Even though we are well into 2010, I wish to say, welcome to another amazing year!  

Many of you know how passionate I am in regards to many things, especially service! Because I spent the last 2 months in Dubai and Thailand, I wanted to ensure you that service is alive and well across the world.

As a speaker I share life lessons through personal stories. Here is an awesome personal story to show how service is delivered in Thailand.  I will be editing this story to save myself embarrassment while also sharing an experience of amazing service "Thai" style.

Several months ago I was enjoying lunch prepared by my husband. As I was eating the egg sandwich, I heard a crunch. Thinking it was part of an egg shell, I was not concerned until my front tooth fell on my plate! It had broken off right at the root. After freaking out, I made my way to my dentist's office. I ended up with a temporary replacement called a partial plate. I’ve loathed it, but it's been a wonderful quick fix for the time being.  

Six months later, Brad and I are having a wonderful dinner in Bangkok as we had arrived there that afternoon. Mid way through dinner I heard a familiar crack and my heart stopped for just a moment.  My temporary tooth had broken in half! I was devastated and truly wanted to come home! The owner of the the restaurant came over (no English) as I had the flipper (tooth thing broken in half; in my hand). He literally took it from me and went away with the appliance! So there I sat, at street level, missing my front tooth; and some guy has just taken away my fake one...only in Bangkok.

The waiter felt so bad that he sent his Mom out from the kitchen to see me. There she was, hugging me and she was missing the exact same tooth but not caring for a moment that it was missing!!  Another coincidence, her birthday is on the same day as mine! Weird, I know! I have a picture of the two of us (big grins)...mine was forced!

The owner came back an hour later and handed me back my tooth appliance. He had used some kind of black epoxy/tar to glue it! He gave me a warning, "Do not place the apparatus into your mouth until the fumes simmer down.” He had to tell me this via ‘hand language’! I obeyed and soaked it in water overnight.

I follow his instructions and am more than excited to get this appliance into my mouth the very next morning! I tried the appliance on and was shocked! In attempting to fix it, he had misaligned the two pieces. Now the tooth is sticking straight out of my mouth and it does not fit the roof of my mouth what so ever! I now look like a rodent/woodchuck (or the banjo picker from Deliverance).

If you can picture this, the appliance is half in, half out. I can't speak at all with it in, and the tooth is now sticking straight out. Are you laughing yet?

I found a dentist down the street the next day and walked into his office without an appointment. Even though his office was filled with patients, he took the botched fix repair apart and bonded the entire appliance. This procedure took 20 minutes from the time I walked in. He amazed me with service and product!

Result: When you want to go out of your way to help a customer, ensure that you are making the situation better and not worse! I recognize that the restaurant owner did his very best, yet his quick fix ended up causing me more stress even though he believed that he was fixing a crisis.     The dentist fixed the broken appliance effectively, efficiently and overwhelmed me with service.

Moral of story:
Both product and service are essential in delivering value added exceptional service!

FYI...My dentist appointment is this week for all the permanent work!! (No more flippers!)