Everyone’s concerned about Google keeping tabs on your privacy. Here’s one group of businesses that apparently don’t keep tabs on you – restaurateurs.

Here’s the story.

Goda CafeI bought a Groupon for a restaurant. I actually buy lots of them – Groupon has taught me never to pay full price for a meal – but that’s another story. I actually buy more food than the Groupon is worth so the restaurant can actually make money – but that’s another story.

Here’s the story.

My wife and I went to the Goda Cafe, a superb hole-in-the-wall restaurant (and I say that with all due respect. Most hole-in-the-wall restaurants are great). They served Ethiopian food. The owner was marvelously charming.

He immediately welcomed us and called us “friend.” Nice touch.

We asked him what was good. We understood steak, chicken and tilapia, but didn’t know anything about the spices. He gave us a good overview and we ordered.

Then we sat down to wait for the takeout order. The restaurant was in a dicey part of town and we thought it might be better to eat at home and watch TV.

Two minutes later, he brought out two bowls of soup and two bottles of water – on the house!

Nice touch.

Twenty minutes later, the food was cooked and placed in white, Styrofoam containers. But instead of getting our money and sending us on our way, he asked my wife to sample the food to make sure it was good.

It was!

Very good.

We paid and as we left, he gave us two more bottles of water.

“In the Sahara,” he said, “People give water to friends when they leave their house.”

Nice touch.

That would have been the end of a nice customer service story, but here’s the rest of the story.

I told this story to my buddy Stuart Gray who consults with restaurants. I thought he’d be bowled over by this wonderful customer service story.

Remarkable Service

Stuart Gray's Remarkable Service for restaurant owners

Instead, he replied, “Did they put you on a list? Do they know how to reach you again?

Uh, no.

Well, I guess Groupon knows, but I hear that Groupon will gladly sell that info to the restaurant. I wish my new friend had thought to ask.

Oh well.

Do you know who your customers are? Do you give visitors a way to identify themselves to you and join your lists, read your blogs or connect with you on Facebook (which is going to become the dominant search marketing tool and customer retention tool)? If not, why not? You are letting repeat business slip through your fingers.