Worst Customer Service EverApril 7, 2015
Your company can have the best product, the best atmosphere, and the best location, but if it has terrible public interaction, it's doomed.
Case in point: My husband and I went out for Mexican food last night, to the restaurant that we frequent so often I practically consider it a second kitchen.
A young waitress came up to the table and noticed my husband had shaved off his beard.
She said, and I quote, "Why did you shave your beard off?! You look creepy. Really. You look like a crazy cartoon squirrel."
My husband shrugged it off as we quickly paid our bill and slipped out the door. We sat in the car afterwards stunned. How could you top that? "Please leave. Now! You're hideous face is scaring the customers!"
Had the manager ever talked to this person about customer interaction? Did he know what kinds of customer train wrecks were taking place? I doubt it.
Customer Face-to-Face 101
For that waitress who is in dire need of some face-to-face 101, these simple tips:
Clear communication. Keep it simple. Be direct. Take a deep breath before pointing faults out to the customer.
Know your product. At this same restaurant I over heard this conversation. Customer: What's the best thing on the menu? Waitress: I don't know. I don't like Mexican food.
Use positive language. Just because you're smiling when you're saying something, doesn't mean it's a positive statement.
Try to Read Customers. If you can't read a customer, stick with compliments. For example, "Nice jacket" is superior to "Are you sure you want to super size that?"
Learn how to handle surprises. Pause before reacting to startling things. In fact, the bigger the surprise, the bigger the pause. In short, avoid blurting, shrieking or screaming.
For the manager, I'd suggest watching Who Sold You This Then? starring Hugh Laurie and narrated by John Cleese.
This humorous video demonstrates that one bad service provider can undo years of great service and lose hundreds of customers. Hugh Laurie makes this flick as funny as it is educational.
Although the customer service my husband received last night would keep 99 percent of customers from returning, we're nothing short of tenacious. We're going to give it another go . . . but not until he grows his beard back.
Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.