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Janet's Blog: 20th Feb 2013

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When were you last blown away by a great customer experience?

I am rarely impressed by my dining / service experiences but last weekend I wanted to weep with joy after a Saturday night out at a little Brakspear pub in Goring in Oxfordshire.

A friend had been raving about this pub, recently been taken over by new tenants so, won over by her enthusiasm, several of us trekked across the Oxfordshire countryside to quench our inquisitiveness.

The Catherine Wheel is a pretty country pub with a well-stocked bar, slightly dated furniture and a roaring fire at one end. The menu is rustic pub grub with a slightly quirky, trendy edge about it. Prices are very modest with mains under £13 and a decent house wine for £18.

We chose the bar bites as shared starters which we all loved in terms of choice, flavours and textures.  See picture of menu. The Scotch egg was cooked to perfection! I for one was over the moon about the individual short crust pastry steak and ale pies. [If you have read any of my other blogs you will know that I think a casserole dish with a puff pastry lid is lazy and not actually ‘pie’]. The triple cooked chips were the best I have ever had.

The service was adequate, the food was very good indeed, the ambience was fabulous but the customer engagement was awesome. My friend had mentioned it was her birthday when she booked and her dessert came out with ‘happy birthday’ written on the plate and a candle. We were encouraged, gently, by the waiters to sing. The tenants James and Tim came over to say ‘happy birthday’ and gave us a complimentary bottle of birthday fizz, chatting to us, for an appropriate amount of time, as if we were firm friends.

Personalising our time at the table enhanced our experience from ‘very good’ to ‘great’! A candle on a dessert plate, an inexpensive bottle of fizz and a chat might not seem like a lot to some restaurateurs but as a customer it makes you feel like your presence and your money is truly valued, which sadly, is often remiss. It’s the small touches that make a business stand out from its competitors.

Through recommendation we drove half an hour to go to a pub when we have a dozen food led pubs within ten minutes from where we live.  For me this pub has the WOW factor and I wish them every success. 

When was the last time you were blown away by a service experience?