Customer Experience: A Child’s Party


An anxious mother had booked an indoor play area for her toddler son’s birthday. She had planned it all in advance, from decorations to guest list, and wanted the party to go particularly well, as she had invited her son’s preschool class. Wanting to avoid having to use an outside caterer, she also preordered lunch for all the children and their parents, including appetizers, side dishes, and pizza as the entrée.

The Saturday of the party, her son was bouncing around the house with excitement. The young birthday boy, his father, and his mother all arrived at the party and were warmly greeted by a hostess at the party room. Small guests began arriving and the party was in full swing for an hour, until it was time for lunch to be served. To the mother’s surprise, only the appetizer and the side dishes came out, and there was no pizza. None of the parents were able to eat and the children were all hungrily nibbling on small amounts of food. The mother was very upset and embarrassed and hastily spoke to the party room hostess. The hostess apologized and said that the events team had forgotten to cook to the pizzas. After a half hour, numerous boxes of pizza came into the party room, and all the guests were fed. However, the mother was still very embarrassed and upset.

At the end of the party, the event manager met personally with the mother. She sincerely apologized for the oversight, noting that it was entirely her team’s fault, and that she was sure it had been a big inconvenience for the family. She mentioned that she knew the family had held their son’s birthday party at the play space last year too, and that she hoped they would continue to return. The events manager also offered the family a discount on the party that day, to make up for their troubles.

The mother was touched by her sincere apology, and also appreciative of the 20% discount the event manager offered. The mother vowed to return the next year for her son’s party.

Customer Service Takeaways

  • Mistakes will happen to the best of organizations, so it is important to sincerely and empathetically apologize.
  • Discounts can an effective mean of service recovery if combined with a genuine apology.