Saturday, May 19, 2007

Customer Satisfaction

Earlier this week, I went to Panera - twice. Though both times the food tasted great, I was very disappointed in the fat and calorie content of the steak salad I had during the first visit. (I know, "steak salad" should have been a clue. I checked the nutritional info after I ate it.)

As many of you know, I'm not shy about complaining to restaurants. I sent an e-mail to Panera through the online customer comment form. The next day I had a response from Alice at Panera. She agreed that the steak salad was high in fat and calories the way it is usually served, and explained that a lot of the fat came from the recommended salad dressing. She then gave me detailed information about all of their low-fat, low-calorie dressings. That was nice! From that info I found their salmon salad, which I tried a couple of days later.

I know I rant quite a bit about restaurants, (David, quit laughing), so I like to point it out when a restaurant does something good, too. Panera knows how to treat their customers and I like their fresh salads and their many choices. I will still check out the nutritional info before I order, but I can do that online.

Sidebar about why I complain to restaurants.
I feel the best way for me to make an impact on any business is to either give them my money, or NOT give them my money. It's good that I boycott McDonald's, but I think it is more effective if I tell them why. How will McDonald's know that I object to the lack of nutritional value in their foods unless I tell them? Other people must be doing the same thing - why else would they have pushed those salads so hard a couple of years ago? (I bought the salads for a while thinking I was encouraging them. Well, they just aren't good, so I quit, and they know why.) The only way we can make a differnece is to let these places know what we will and will not buy.

BTW: McDonald's does offer grilled chicken on their salads. They also have better dressings, now. They are a little bit smaller (according to the info on their web site) than other comparly priced salads. Regardless, the last time I checked, they were still mostly iceberg.

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