Published December 11, 2012
You tell employees that the customer is always right. But do you have a policy on name calling?
Customers at a Chilly D’s Sports Lounge in Stockton, Calif. last week were outraged when they saw their bill, as on the top of the ticket they were referred to as “fat girls,” FoxNews.com reported.
According to the report, the three unhappy customers said their server denied his involvement and the manager added insult to injury by saying they still had to pay some of their bill, as he offered them a discount. A picture of the bill has since gone viral on the Internet.
Small-business experts say that while the manager mishandled the incident, Chilly D’s likely dropped the ball when hiring these individuals. Micah Solomon, author of the new book “High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service,” said the manager can’t handle the situation properly if he or she is not trained correctly.
“He isn’t incentivized to think about the long-term goal of the company—which is to get repeat customers,” Solomon said. “Unfortunately, the company needed to start this back at the hiring process. Start with warm people who are empathetic, so you are building a culture of caring for your customers. Then the bottom line will take care of itself.”
Misty Young, owner of the Squeeze In restaurants in Reno, Nevada, said she was horrified by this story. Young said no matter what the guests and customers must always come first, because without them – you make no money.
“They are the golden egg to your business,” she said. “If I were the owner, I’d be thinking, ‘Boy, someone is going to get fired.’”
For now, the waiter at Chilly D’s has been put on suspension, according to MyFox8.
Young also said the restaurant owner should be speaking out and apologizing.
“I’d let [customers] know that the particular associate in no way reflects me, my business or my values,” Young said. “I would also issue an ‘Our Bad,’ card, which means it was our mistake. We invite them to come back again, on us. So that’s two meals on us -- and also firing the person who did this.”
Managers in the service industry have the duty of getting all of their staff on the same page before shifts begin, Solomon said.
“There is an emotional component to working in the service industry,” he said. “People are at [your business] to have fun and feel good, so that needs reinforcement every day. You are starting out with a crippled workforce to begin with, with workers coming in hung over, fighting with their spouses or getting cut off in traffic. You need to get them to a place where they realize they are here to take care of your customers.”
Also, by not speaking out, the Chilly D’s owner is setting a terrible example, and missing a major opportunity to right the wrong, Young said.
“Your client is your number-one asset in the business,” she said. “I don’t work in my restaurant, but I would get out there, or personally post it on our Facebook page.”