Barbeque Nation - A not so great experience

After a long time, Meghana and I decided to go to Barbeque Nation @ Deccan on Saturday afternoon. And unfortunately it turned out to be a not-so-great experience. 

We felt really lucky when we were given a table in just 5 minutes as against the usual unavailability at Barbeque Nation, both at DG and at Sayaji. The seating was on the outside covered area, but at least they had those overhead sprinklers for cooling the air.

The kebabs included 1 Mushroom, 1 Soya, 1 Pineapple, 1 Paneer along with a Tikki and some preparation of half-baked potatos. The peel of the potato wasn't cooked enough and was spoiling the entire taste. Salt was overriding the taste of pineapple kebab. Paneer had gone hard. After having eaten the Paneer dishes at multiple places, it was obvious that the Paneer that was being served wasn't good and we had to tell it to the staff there. The staff asked their chef to talk to us. We told the experience to the chef and he said he'll get us better prepared Paneer. 

While our "better" Paneer was getting prepared, one of their captains turned to our table and was looking for overall feedback. Probably he was too used to listen to "yeah, it's very good", "Kebabs are awesome!!" and similar feedback. When we told him that we are really disappointed, he was kind of dumbstruck. But soon he recovered and asked for details. Meghana told him the Paneer problem. She also told him that there's no enough variety in the kebabs, it always leaves an expression of having same taste or same spread every time you visit Barbeque Nation. And there he made the mistake - 

"No m'am... it's not like that. But if you want..." 
"It's not about what I want, it's about having the variety for all of your customer..."
"M'am, if you want I'll get something..."

We realized it was of no use communicating more with this fellow. In the meanwhile our supposedly-better-paneer kebab arrived. Unfortunately they were hardly better. We decided to leave the topic and continue and ordered for Coke.

Immediately after taking first sip of the Coke, I was sure, the Coke wasn't good. It had been stored for a long time or was kept open for a long time. It didn't have the usual fizz. We demanded to talk to the top manager around. Despite asking for a "top manager", one of the captains came to us asking for the problem. 

"Are you the topmost guy around?"
"No sir..."
"We asked for the top guy to talk to..."
"Sir, tell me the prob..."
"We want to talk to the top most guy around here..."
"Ok sir..."

When the top most guy came around, at least he had better responses to the overall situation. He reasoned that they keep on rotating the menu every three days to handle the variety issue. About Paneer, he mentioned that they carry out the food quality check twice to ensure the items getting served are of highest quality and he would look into the paneer issue personally. He also offered us "Paneer-Chilly" to compensate for not having the variety. Promptly asked to replace the Coke. 

We also told that top most guy about a specific problem with the staff. Everyone was trying to talk to the customer, without bending forward. There was loud music being played in the hall and it was absolutely impossible to hear them out. Even some of them couldn't hear what we were asking, and had to be repeated again and again. It was acknowledged that most of the staff is new and is being trained so these kind of problems are occurring.

When the Paneer Chilly arrived, we could feel the difference in the paneer. It was way better than the earlier servings, but was still no where in comparison with the softness of paneer at Yana or some other restaurants. 

As regards Coke, the captain claimed that they had the "fountain" Coke and not the bottled ones and hence offered us 500 ml Coke bottle. But it wasn't chilled, so we decided to suppress the urge to have Coke!!

The only things that I liked during this visit were the "Dal Makhani" and Mushroom Kebabs. The Ice Cream was about to become milkshake, but we thought it was enough to complain more and kept quiet..

On the whole, the experience left us disappointed. Although, it wasn't an absolutely bad experience, I am going to be a bit skeptical next time I visit them. 

Some thoughts/observations:

  1. We were one of the early visitors. It is likely that the Paneer served wasn't fresh (I am avoiding to use term "left-over") and the new stock was pulled out only when we complained about it. Surprisingly I didn't see others around complaining about this.
  2. You do not tell your customer that "if you want I'll do this, but...". I am not claiming to stick to "customer is always right", but it's about how you project the situation. You may have your side of story, customer may not even be interested in it. What matters most is how you improve the customer experience. The top guy had got it when we complained about the variety. He needs to pass it onto his team.
  3. If the staff is not fully trained, should they even be deploying them in the service? I feel, specially for the brand like Barbeque Nation, they should pay more attention to customer experience. Business should not be done at the cost of customer experience, by deploying half trained staff (as was claimed).
  4. The paper coaster claimed that they want to cultivate the practice of not having any customer to pay the tip to individuals and were urging customers not to pay the tips. However, when I received the card swipe receipt, it still had the place to pay the tip!! How incongruent action!!

  5. Every time any of the staff wanted to talk to us, either for noting down the order or for asking for feedback, each one of them invariably turned to me and not to "Meghana and I" together as customer. They were not talking to a big group, where it might be difficult, but were talking to just 2 persons. It was noticeably obvious and weird!! 
I think lot of things to improve for the staff at Barbeque Nation at Deccan Gymkhana.

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