I have changed the names in this story to protect the guilty.

Today I bought my lunch at a local establishment and was witness to some common, but bad customer service. A fellow patron had ordered chicken, but when he went to pick up the food he found out it was no longer available.

Lisa, the person making the meal, said, “Ahhh! I already told Larry we don’t have any chicken left. So it’s not my fault. I’ll have to give you Turkey instead.”

Wow.

Now of course, there are whole bunch of things wrong here, but it all really boils down to a very simple rule about customer service ( human interaction): empathy. The employee needs to put herself in the patron’s shoes. This customer is not going to care about Lisa or Larry or why there is no chicken. He wants chicken. He paid for chicken. Throwing your co-worker under the bus is the exactly wrong thing to do. Doing so robs the patron of any sense that the establishment is taking responsibility or that you care. It also shines a very poor light on the culture of the business. “Nothing we can do about it: Larry is incompetent. Here’s your turkey.”

Now, of course, this is a “fast food joint” so you might fairly suggest my story is not unique. I do think this type of behaviour, in slightly more subtle forms, is very common. I know I’ve seen it at Smart Dolphins from time to time. Watch for it.