Yesterday, I noticed a television ad for a local Tex-Mex chain named Tumbleweed that is based here in
Tumbleweed’s Main Problems: Tumbleweed used to be a thriving chain that packed customers in every day. There have been several upper level management changes over the years, and the chain has struggled mightily due to Authentic Mexican restaurants sprouting up all around in addition to the fast casual Mexican segment including Q-Doba, Moe’s, LaBamba, etc. I used to LOVE Tumbleweed, but their customer service has been consistently poor, and their chips (always stale tasting) and salsa pale in comparison to their top competitors. Their burritos are good, but that’s not enough anymore. Anyone can make a pretty good burrito–it’s a lot like pizza. Even when it’s bad, it’s still good enough.
Back to the story: my e-mail outlined my experience in pretty good detail and even offered to help by consulting with the company since that’s what I do. I tried to offer solutions to the problems, but it’s apparent that all the money spent advertising the website is in hopes that the complimentary e-mails come flooding in because the complaints will be dealt with much like this:
Thank you for making use of my new website and for providing comments on your experience at our Springhurst Tumbleweed. I will pass your comments on to our team in Springhurst and know that they will be disappointed to hear of your experience. It does sound as if one of our team members “dropped the ball” during your carry out order and for that I am deeply sorry and apologize for the inconvenience that it caused you.
If you were to visit one of our restaurants today you would find a guest comment card asking that you request a manager’s presence at the first sign of a difficulty in one of our restaurants. We have a new management team in Springhurst and the performance at this restaurant has been well above average over the past few months.
Again, I appreciate your comments and hope you have an opportunity to try Tumbleweed again and tell me what you think.
First off, how does his recommended solution of trying Tumbleweed again (on my dime I might add) benefit me in any way? Obviously, in spite of his website and TV ad designed to welcome feedback, the guy doesn’t get it! I have little desire to go back, and that’s why I e-mailed him in the first place about my unpleasant experience and to offer consulting help. The place needs someone that understands placing the customer first, and this guy is out to lunch if that’s really his genuine recommendation and not some detached assistant’s. I sincerely hope a CEO doesn’t think that’s a viable solution to a customer service problem!
I don’t like Tumbleweed enough to tolerate rotten service and a brush off from their CEO that basically says to me “get over it” and “visit again because we have new management.” Who gives a damn that you have new management? How does that help me with my daily decision making when it comes to choosing a place to eat? I don’t choose eateries based on their management team! There are far too many quality competitors out there to lower my expectations to help some self serving organization that doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether I tell you about my bad experience or not.
Guess what? I’m now telling anyone who will listen in the most public of forums because they neither listened nor cared enough to pay attention. I honestly could care less if they take me up on my consulting offer–I have plenty to do without having to educate this chain that customers pay the bills, and poor customer service is a sign of poor training, poor management, and/or poor hiring practices. In Tumbleweed’s case, I vote for all of the above. Add to that: lack of committed leadership.
Lesson to be learned: if you’re going to give people a forum to tell you what they think, be prepared for people to take you up on it by telling you exactly what they think–good and bad. If someone complains, take the time to listen and try to provide a legitimate solution as quickly as possible. Don’t waste people’s time with some canned response that shows you don’t really read the complaints. If you only want compliments and positive referrals, it’s best to selectively target only those folks which will tell you what you want to hear. Those that tell you what you need to hear are obviously of little value to you anyway so why bother opening up the lines of communication to everyone?
Tumbleweed, you let me down. I honestly thought you might be trying to recapture some of your past glory by welcoming feedback of all sorts this time and actually doing something about the poor customer service that has marred your chain for years now. Oh well, have fun filing for bankruptcy within the next 3-5 years. It was good knowing you!
UPDATE: IT GETS BETTER!
I just received another e-mail from Terry (or is it one of his assistants?)
Here’s what’s in it for you; a juicy USDA choice ribeye steak aged 21 days and grilled over a superhot mesquite wood fire until it’s juicy flavor is just right for he your palate. Get this with two great sides and you have one of the best meals for the money found anywhere in Louisville.
If that’s not reason enough to visit Tumbleweed you’ll just have to guess at what you are missing.
WTF?!? If he actually is the one reading and responding to the e-mails, he’s more out to lunch than one could ever imagine. This is getting downright comical!