Bad Restaurant Customer Service

I saw this “tweet” on Jeremy Wright’s (friend and former boss) Twitter feed yesterday:

Bad appetizer at restaurant (*really bad*). Waitress response: “well you’ll know for next time”. Hah. First time for that comment evar 😉

apathyI laughed out loud when I read this. Then, I came to the realization that the waitress actually did say that. At point, I got a scary reminder of just how bad customer service can be. The particular phrase isn’t on my “Big List of Things Not to Say,” but I do feel it is implied.

There are so many things about that comment that are so bad. Here are my thoughts about the comment, how to avoid it, and what to do if it happens:

It is completely unacceptable. Saying something like that is completely unacceptable. If I overheard an employee saying that, I would fire him or her on the spot. If your company culture tolerates those sort of answers, your customer service has no shot at being any good.

Don’t hire people like that. If at all possible, do not hire people who give answers like that. See this post on avoiding bad job candidates. If you have to, use personality tests and potential employees assessments. You must screen for (and avoid) people like that.

Train people to do the opposite. Part of your training should focus on being empathetic towards customers and their concerns, dealing with common problems (i. e. bad food in a restaurant), etc. If you train people to do the right thing, the chances of them doing the wrong thing will decrease significantly.

I don’t know if there will be a next time at that restaurant from Jeremy. With bad food and bad service, I would hope not. It is a lot easier to lose a customer than it is to gain one. Make sure you aren’t losing customers because of ridiculously unacceptable answers.

5 Responses to “Bad Restaurant Customer Service”

  1. Sam said:

    Dec 28, 07 at 2:37 pm

    I’ve experienced this myself. Not sure it makes a difference, but I typically try to call later and share my experience with a manager.

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    Jan 02, 08 at 1:27 pm

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  3. Dian said:

    Apr 09, 08 at 12:58 am

    I just left SUBWAY In Biloxi MS. I have a foot cast where I had surgery one week ago. I drove my daughter and her friends there (a total of 6 of us) (we live 5 blocks away) and I parked by the front. I did NOT block the door, just parked close enough to get off, run in and place the order and leave. A woman (Manager?) informed me I was parked illegaly and I should move. She was none too friendly in her approach. I replied to her ” then call the police!” She went to make a phone call. As the girls are placing their order, the woman yells over at me and says “The owner said if you don’t move your car, we don’t have to serve you!- especially since there is plenty of parking and your in a FIREZONE” I told her “It’s obvious you don’t care that I’m in a foot cast or that I just had foot surgery…you’re not the police, your here to make sandwiches and that’s not good customer service!” I then told the girls——–let’s go…we’ll go to Quizno’s for our business!”
    After we went to Quizno’s, I realised there was nothing to indicate in fact this was a FIRE ZONE. I even took pictures to further educate myself on this topic. I came home and called the Biloxi Fire Marshall- he confirmed to me this is NOT A DESIGNATED FIRE ZONE! While I had gone back to review where I had parked I noticed there is nothing to indicate it as such- no RED WORDING, LINES, SIGNS or other.
    HMMMMMM….how’s that for drawing business?

  4. Honest said:

    May 27, 08 at 10:26 am

    Please be careful when buying food at Caribou Coffee. I bought a cinnamon roll and something in it broke my tooth. The company and their insurance agent refused to help me in any way because I had swallowed the evidence.
    They were happy to take my money but after that they did not care about the customer.
    I don’t want anything like that to happen to someone else.

  5. Richard Saporito said:

    Sep 28, 09 at 4:12 pm


    Anticipation and Reaction is a crucial concept in delivering and maintaining excellent restaurant dining room service. It is very important that all staff and management read the customers individually and the table as a whole— ahead of time.

    For example, a good waiter can often anticipate when a table will be ordering heavily off the menu. The waiter should react by spending some extra time at this table because, most likely, this table will order even more menu items —if given that extra time. It makes for a more enjoyable party while boosting up the check total in the process.

    Then, there are times when serious business people come in for lunch, order lightly, and pretty much want to be left alone to discuss business. With anticipation of the customer’s needs, and reaction, the waiter should know to give efficient, unobtrusive service, yet not ignoring the table.

    Then, there is the situation of the crying baby at the table. The smartest thing a waiter can do is to get some food out right away to distract and calm the baby. Often times, an order will be given consisting of appetizers and entrées, along with the baby’s one small dinner order. With anticipation and reaction, the waiter should ask “Would you like me to put in the baby’s dinner order along with the appetizer order?” The response by the parents, as they understand the purpose of serving the baby immediately, is usually a sigh of relief -“yes!”

    It is also very important for the host to read the customers as soon as they walk through the front door to help provide the best table that fits the party. For example, if a couple walks into the restaurant locked in each other’s arms, then a nice quiet table with some privacy would surely be the perfect fit.

    Another situation is if a party of ten arrives looking to indulge in many cocktails while making quite a bit of noise in the process. With anticipation and reaction, the host should seat this party as close to the bar as possible. The bar patrons probably won’t mind the extra noise, and it will be much easier for the waiter to give better service. Running heavy trays of cocktails back and forth from the bar to ten thirsty patrons will not be as tedious because the large party was sat in close proximity to the bar.
    This mindfulness by the host also saves the waiter time and effort which can be afforded to other diners in the restaurant. And, most likely, there will be a higher beverage total generated by this large party because of the reduced travel time from the bar to the table.

    Yes, anticipation and reaction by the staff and management will improve restaurant dining room service and increase profits!