Customer Service and Stanley House’s Grill on the Hill

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I am sure there are in-depth studies which prove the point I want to make, but unless you’re in academia and actually have the time to devote to reading up theory then what happens in practice is all you’ve got.

Newroomsonline, like any other online retailer, I imagine, receives very little feedback. When you receive that email which gushes about every bit of your service that you’d hoped would be received, your heart soars and you, megolomaniacally, think, this is it, I AM the next big thing. I was in raptures last night to receive an email from a customer who first contacted us back in February to see if she could negotiate a payment plan for an order of a whole VW Camper Van dinner service. She was so elated to have been given the opportunity to save up that she was ‘bouncing round the living room, really happy’ knowing that it will be delivered next week.

Of course we’re not the next big thing but we aim for the dizzy heights of success every day….but it’s hard when you’re a very small business and you do everything yourself. Equally, when you’re small you want to provide the most perfect customer experience you can because you live in fear of turning future business away, so you want to go that extra mile to ensure the all important returning customer. I am appalled on a near daily basis by the throw away attitude of big business whose attitude would seem to be F*** you, we’ve got your money now sod off and be quiet about it.

Which is why I like to always give credit, where credit’s due, and why I have to say, despite some of the negative things I can find to say about eBay, undoubtedly the bigger end of big  business, I do love it.

We recently started selling the odd thing, on the instructions of our accountants, on eBay as newroomsoutlet. What I love is the feedback service. The fact that everyone who has purchased from us has something positive to say is so uplifting and I wish it could be something I could put on the main website.

Good feedback genuinely inspires me to provide a better and better service. The thought of bad feedback makes me feel sick. While I pray for the stars, I just hope that come the day, I would never treat my customers with the same vulgar disdain that the big businesses  BT, Vodafone and Next have dished out to me in the recent past.

I have had some utterly wonderful customer service of late myself from small business (no surprise there) so will share:

The Grill on the Hill, Stanley House, Mellor, Blackburn.

Prior to their latest new grill, Stanley House offered two dining experiences, Cassis and Mr Fred’s. Either way the food is always fabulous, served by the most lovely and informed staff, an absolute delight and in the case of Mr Fred’s, very reasonably priced.

Having dined at Cassis a couple of times, and then had my wedding breakfast taster session there, I would be a little reluctant to describe Cassis as an effortlessly comfortable evening out. The restaurant had a less than convivial atmosphere, at times so quiet  as to be intrusive. That sounds weird but its cavernous space made you feel extremely self conscious if you were one of the 3 tables in use that particular evening…but you went because the food was indescribably superb.

The Grill on the Hill seems to have sorted that problem out for me. The new decor is bright and airy, stylish yet not on the interior design fascist end of the scale! Music plays at an audible level creating a less formal air….nice. Was that Richard Cheese at one point? In fact was that the wedding CD we left behind of cheesy covers of jazz standards?

The menu is great, a wide choice of what I’d call normal classics….not a poncey edge in sight…I had Pato Negra ham (is that poncey, have I just contradicted myself instantly? Damn.) followed by tournedos rossini and then a lemon tart.

The pato negra was just dreamy, excellent flavour. The tournedos rossini was equally scrummy, with a slice of grilled fois gras as opposed to a blob of pate on top of a tower of wilted spinach, fillet steak and a fresh crouton. My only observation would be that the barbecued steak tasted like it had probably been marinated in something or grilled over hickory to give a taste which is not what I’d bring to mind when usually thinking of tournedos, but that didn’t make it unpalatable…just lovely. The lemon tart was tart, creamy and had a beautiful creme brulee-esque slightly toasted crust – dessert perfection.

Throughout we talked at length to their restaurant manager, the waiter and sommelier – all very approachable, good humoured company, on hand but again not cloyingly so, to see to your every needs.

I loved it. I even managed a mouthful of red wine…trust me, not a common sight these days. David asked me for marks out of ten – I said 8, he was surprised. OK then, to coin the favoured phrase of my dad, aka John the Warehouse, for those who follow @newrooms on twitter – if you’re looking for something to complain about….

1. The flowers were dead in the ladies. It’s a minor point but in event management I check the loos before I do anything else on show day.

2. The balsamic dressing on the pato negra was too much. At times it dwarfed the flavour of the perfect ham, I should have asked, When Harry Met Sally stylee, for it to have been on side.

3. The BBQ flavour of the steak for my tournedos was a contrast with the jus that I’m not sure worked despite it being fabulous.

4. I missed the canapes which Cassis always served, and feel they would be a good link from the old eatery to the new.

5. I had a pre dinner G&T. The manager said Tanqueray was their gin, was that OK. This implied to me that they didn’t have any other gins….I love Tanqueray so not a personal issue but begs the question, what is a place of this calibre doing offering one gin? No Hendrick’s, Miller’s, Gordon’s or Bombay? Very odd indeed.

6. At £2.00 for 4 truffles I had expected four chocolate truffles….just chocolate and ganache. They were hand made, fresh and utterly fabulous BUT, there was an orange one (I really did not want that in my mouth) and a coconut covered one containing a cherry (ditto) – In future I will say yes to the truffles but insist on no flavoured ones. Chocolate should not ever be bastardised by these interloping flavours!!! I WANT A REFUND!

7. The music. Please can we sack off Michael Buble? And Nora Jones? If we’re going for easy listening jazz style then what about Diana Krall, Stacey Kent, even some straight jazz – Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker? If your food isn’t predictable then why is your background music?

The menu and my empty Tanqueray and tonic.

The new decor

Well it's not 103 but the XO will do.

Truffles!

No, in all seriousness, it was a superb evening, the food was simply spectacular, it always is…and that’s my only fear for the Grill on the Hill. You can dine thirty feet away in Mr Fred’s and the food is markedly cheaper and equally fabulous. The menu might not be as laden with tournedos rossini, rabbit, sea bass and oysters but it’s bloody good!

The 29th marks our 2nd wedding anniversary. Last year we returned to Stanley House, to the same bedroom, I lay in the bath drinking champagne and loved that there was a card in the room with the complimentary Champers saying welcome back Mr and Mrs Edmundson-Bird. We vowed to go back every year on our wedding anniversary but I suspect our evening at the Grill on the Hill may have swallowed the coffers for this year’s return.

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