Service of a Perfect Evening Enhanced by Stellar Customer Service

March 11th, 2024

Categories: Concert, Credit Card, Customer Care, Customer Service, Music, Restaurant

Great service turned a wonderful evening into a spectacular one.

It began with an excellent dinner at Fiorella’s, an enormous, popular restaurant across from Lincoln Center that’s hopping with happy patrons especially before performances. It nevertheless serves excellent food and provides professional, top-notch service.

Next we went to hear the Quartetto di Cremona at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in Alice Tully Hall. The two violinists, a cellist and violist chose to play pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich, Osvaldo Golijov and Franz Schubert.

The Italian town of Cremora, known for producing fine violins, is in Lombardy, on the Po River’s left bank, 85 miles from Milan. One of the violins played by the musicians, a Cremona, was made in 1640. The other instruments were made in different Italian cities and dated from 1680 to 1758. But I digress.

As Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8 began, I asked myself, “what tip did I leave the waiter?” followed by the realization that I’d not signed the check, that my credit card remained in the folder and my heart sank.

I dashed out of Alice Tully Hall during intermission and asked the guard to remember me and let me in again. He laughed and reassured me that there would be no problem.

I sprinted back to Fiorella’s, the host opened a drawer with a bunch of credit cards, and there was mine between an American Express Gold Card and a silver card of some sort. The host found the waiter who had the check, I added a tip—I was upset about this omission as well–and hurried back to Lincoln Center. The restaurant was clearly used to lamebrain customers like me and were not concerned that they had been stiffed.

At the end of the concert, after a standing ovation, we started to descend the stairs towards an exit when an usher rushed over to say that there would be one—maybe two—encores. If we left the auditorium, he said, we couldn’t get back in. The quartet’s choice of Puccini was divine. We were grateful to the proactive usher.

We learned something on the 68th Street crosstown bus where a bunch of us, who had exited Lincoln Center, started to speak. One woman kept referring to her “group.” We asked her “what group were you with?” She explained that she was an usher and that each usher is responsible for a portion of the concert hall. That explained why “our” usher raced down the stairs to inform us of the encore. She also told us why we enjoyed only one. “You didn’t clap vigorously enough!” She debunked what a coat check staffer told us—that there was only five minutes left according to union rules so it didn’t leave enough time for more music. She said, “They don’t know anything.”

Do you rejoice when perfect service enhances a flawless evening? Does it happen often?

8 Responses to “Service of a Perfect Evening Enhanced by Stellar Customer Service”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Not often enough these days!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    That’s why I called it out. Sadly, it’s a once-in-a-blue moon experience for me.

  3. Martha Takyama Said:

    I certainly love good service, but I am not sure that I can remember when I last encountered it. I did get incredible assistance from a receptionist at the Jen Center for Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She opted to persuade another department to accept me as a walk-in for needed assistance because it would be difficult for me to come back. It was more than she needed to do and was incredibly kind. I was between laughter and revulsion reading about the newspaper drama over 2 cancelled reservations ($250.00 per person) for a restaurant with 2 communal tables and mediocre food. It involved vituperative ugly comments on social media from the restaurant owner about an out of state customer who couldn’t keep his reservations because he was hospitalized . The making or breaking of a restaurant experience now seems to focus on legal counseling rather than service.

  4. Deb Wright Said:

    Of course I clap and stand up if it is outstanding! This is very puzzling to me. Did people start leaving prematurely? I hope the concert performers were not discouraged!

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    We stood, as did most everyone; the man next to me was yelling “BRAVI! BRAVI!” and nobody left early that I could see though we were in the front–I didn’t look behind us.

    We, too, were puzzled by the usher’s comment. The NY audience for classical music is much older than it may be in other countries where a youthful crowd might whistle and hoot.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    My jaw is on the floor! A fellow is hospitalized, and the restaurant owner is making a fuss about unmet reservations. Yikes. One hopes that at $250/pp he can afford the loss.

    In NYC most restaurants give you 10 minutes and then they can give your table to someone else. Everything is expensive here though I’ve not been to places at $250 a guest. Maybe they give you another few minutes.

    In the obnoxious restaurant attitude file, one place posts on its website how long you can stay if you are two, four or more people.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Yes. This includes two “Rings” — eight operas total, a couple of Don Giovannis, a Flying Dutchman & Some super ballets. Visited Fiorella’s several times, and greatly enjoyed. Then a pal found a great sandwich type outfit nearby, and our pocketbooks could be heard rejoicing with the chorus!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    No doubt Fiorello’s is pricey. Half block away is a beautiful looking place cafeteria style. I noticed that an eclair cost $9.00. I can just imagine what the stunning tiny sandwiches cost. All this to say it’s a pricey neighborhood. But I’ve paid too much for food that tastes like chalk where I’m treated like staff wished I’d go away. Good for Fiorello’s for its well deserved loyal following as it maintains its standards.

    Glad you had good experiences too.

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