When Customer Service Goes Really Wrong

The blogosphere is buzzing with a tale of customer service gone very, very wrong. For those who missed it, New York Times reporter Ron Lieber was dining at tony Restaurant Marc Forgione on a recent Saturday night when the aforenamed chef began screaming at his staff in the kitchen. The dressing-down was loud enough to be easily heard by diners.

After several rounds of this, Lieber had enough, strolled into the kitchen, and asked Forgione to kindly knock it off so he could enjoy his meal. In response, Lieber approached his table and threw him out of the restaurant. And then of course, Lieber wrote a column about it and told the world.

The tale of Lieber and Forgione to me is a cautionary one for all business owners with many lessons to be learned.

Let’s start with your place of business’s environment. OK, you may not be ripping your staff new ones in front of customers — let’s hope you have that much sense. But have you succeeded in creating a truly relaxing, welcoming environment? Is that background music maybe a little too loud? The lame banter about where we’re going this weekend a little off-putting? That pink-haired, tattooed employee a bit too snarky with shoppers? Maybe it’s time to conduct a little market research and ask your customers what you could do better to make them enjoy visiting.

Next, how do you deal with difficult customers? Clearly, Lieber was crossing a line by coming into the kitchen and telling Forgione what to do. Forgione later told the restaurant blog GrubStreet he felt massively disrespected in front of his staff.

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