I have a way of speaking that, if you don’t know me, sounds like I’m approaching life from a negative direction. Nothing could be further from the truth; I’m better at seeing silver linings than most people, and way better at playing devil’s advocate than just about anyone you’ll meet—ever.

I do have issues with people and businesses that do things “the wrong way”, though. It’s the reason we have The Answer Guy’s Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame, and I’m sure it plays a large role in my posts on Customer Service being the ones that sound most passionate.

I like technology, and I know enough about it to comment on trends and be right about 99% of the time. I find intellectual property issues fascinating. I run other people’s’ businesses, for goodness sake, and our clients stay with us because we’re pretty darned good at it.

But customer service and the way it gets done, right or wrong, is my passion.

I’ve been in London for a bit on holiday, as they say on that side of the pond. In that few days I experienced both the best customer service I’ve ever seen and some of the worst I can imagine. I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way, because I’d rather concentrate on the good. Take that, people who think I’m cranky!

Also, I have a job to do relative to Zuma Restaurant in London. Search Engine Optimization are us, you know, and Zuma deserves to have the way they conduct business show up in SEO results. And it will; Zuma, welcome to the aftermath of bad customer service. Ask Nissan of Manhattan, Honda Financial, or Acer what happens when you do customer service badly enough and The Answer Guy notices.

Zuma is a restaurant in London that’s been open for a bit over a year. Although I’ve been there just this once, my partner ate at Zuma last summer when Zuma was new. She enjoyed the food and the entire experience tremendously, and so on this trip, with me in tow, Zuma got a “round two”.

There won’t be a round three for Zuma.

The food at Zuma is tremendously good. It’s little, and served tapas style, so you need to either be a small eater, go to Zuma planning to leave hungry, or eat for a good long time when you’re there. Fair enough; part of picking restaurants is knowing how and what they serve, and Zuma’s food falls into a category that I like to call “precious”.

Here’s the problem, though: Zuma, by having become an “IT place“, frequented by celebrities, hot as can be, and hipper than thou, is turning over their tables at a pace that makes option #3 not possible. When we dined at Zuma—on the occasion of my friend’s birthday, no less, we were told halfway through our meal that we weren’t eating fast enough and would soon have to vacate our table. In those words.

I’m a capitalist. I’m all for making money and in the restaurant business turning over tables is part of the game; you should only be so lucky as to be in Zuma’s position.

But we didn’t know that Zuma would be effectively kicking us out after ninety minutes until forty-five minutes in. Our friends at The Lanesborough Hotel didn’t know it when they made our reservation, and we weren’t advised of Zuma’s plans for our table when we sat down.

Truly, this was an unforgivable customer service sin perpetrated by Zuma. We might even have laughed at how bad our waiter was—and he was awful—had we been allowed to stay at Zuma long enough to finish our very expensive meal. No such luck. Zuma, welcome to The Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame. And in a few weeks I’ll be happy to welcome you to a prominent place in search engine results for this discussion of you too, Zuma.

On the positive side, I’d like to tell you, very simply, and very briefly, that Amaya, an Indian restaurant in London with prices even higher than Zuma, is worth a visit. I’ve never enjoyed Indian food; curry is not my thing, and in my experience it gets overused in most Indian cuisine. Forget that stereotype, and just go to Amaya. It seriously is in the top two or three meals I’ve ever eaten, and the service and ambiance match the food. Amaya is dining perfection.

Now, on to total perfection.

We stayed in London at The Lanesborough Hotel. Let me tell you what: The Lanesborough, listed some places as “the most expensive hotel in London”—which is the most expensive city in the Western World, so you can only imagine—is remarkable.

Forget the politicians, rock stars, and other famous people who stay there. Forget that the restaurant at The Lanesborough received its first Michelin star in under a year, which is unheard of. Forget how beautiful the rooms and the rest of the facility are. The Lanesborough is simply as close to perfect as a hotel can be. That’s about the people.

Yes, The Lanesborough is expensive; at the height of tourist season and just weeks before London is hosting the Olympic Games even more so. But if you’re the kind of traveler who believes in going all out when you’re away, there simply is no reason to look elsewhere. Period. When you’re at The Lanesborough you feel like you’re at home—and a lovely home it is.

Need something in your room? It’s there, in seconds. Looking for theater tickets that no-one can get their hands on? The Lanesborough has them. And when we had an issue getting money out of a US-based bank to pay for our stay—that one should be a customer service story all on its own—the ladies and gentlemen at The Lanesborough were not merely patient, but never once made us feel like the troublemakers that we felt like, ourselves. Not for one moment of the several hours we needed to fight through the issue.

Customer service is what makes the world work. The Lanesborough Hotel in London understands this, and Zuma London just . . . doesn’t care.

You care about customer service, right? Just ask if you want to know more, and if you’re looking to tweak your business’ customer service operations, you can reach me here.

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