Sending back a salad at a restaurant is one thing, but outwardly berating a server is another. Where does a manager draw the line? And is the old adage, “The customer is always right,” wrong?
Flying off the handle
One woman earned the nickname “Pen Pal” due to her constant stream of complaints to Southwest airlines, according to The Huffington Post. She continued to fly with the company despite an obvious disdain for everything from the seating to the flight attendants’ uniforms. She even despised the casual atmosphere that Southwest embodies.
It leads you to wonder: Why didn’t she switch carriers? Questions like these can’t really be answered. Some people wake up and dislike the air that they breathe. In this story, the woman wrote into Southwest one last time. Not knowing how to handle it, the employees passed the note along to the CEO at the time, Herb Keller.
As The Huffington Post reported, Mr. Keller then replied “Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.” The majority of people who heard rumors about Keller’s reply probably did a happy dance. However, a few must have wondered if his actions were justifiable and ethical.
That’s because the rule that the customer is always right has been so ingrained in restaurant culture that even slightly veering from this belief is jarring. Well guess what? The customer is not always right.
When to let go
Forbes pointed out that clinging to this notion drives a wedge between employees and the employer. So then how does someone know where to put up a boundary? When is it appropriate to surrender efforts to make a guest satisfied? At what point can you refuse service? And what do you even say?
“An employee can’t fully concentrate if he or she is frazzled from a customer confrontation.”
Certainly you’re not going to lash out at a patron who ordered his burger medium-rare and got it well-done. Cases in which the customer might be wrong entail an obvious expression of disrespect. Anyone who mistreats your staff is reducing productivity and taking money from your pocket.
An employee can’t fully concentrate if he or she is frazzled from a customer confrontation. In terms of offering good customer service, your job is to apologize for mistakes, offer to make amends and encourage the guest to come back for a better experience.
Remember that even if you lose a guest, you learn a lesson. As Forbes pointed out, Bill Gates believed that there was a lesson to be gleaned from each customer experience, especially the grumpy ones.
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