In other Florida news, a mostly-naked woman went berserk in a McDonalds, trashing the equipment and eating ice cream. Yeah, that’s pretty much the headline. But after watching the video, I had one primary takeaway. It didn’t have anything to do with the nudity.
I have no idea what the woman was upset about. That point actually doesn’t matter. The thing that was the most informative in the video. She calmed down after sucking on the ice cream machine. She then made herself an ice cream cone and didn’t trash anything else. Low blood sugar, maybe?
Regardless, here’s my idea. With an agitated customer, the manager has to do two things: establish trust and defuse anger. The first should be offering to meet on neutral ground to discuss the problem. When a manager is behind the counter, there is a clear barrier between the parties. This can allow the manager some safety and power over the situation, but it can also raise the perception of inaccessibility to the customer, which just intensifies the situation. The manager can say, “Let’s sit down at a table and discuss this.” There will still be a barrier between them, but the playing field will seem more level.
Defusing the anger can be easy. Ask the customer if they want a drink, dessert, or ice cream. Whatever they want, have someone immediately make it and bring it to the table. The manager should not make or bring the request; the manager’s attention is solely on the customer.
If all goes well, the customer will be snacking and explaining the problem, maybe very aggressively. But by seating them at a table, you’ve gotten the scene away from the front counter, where others would be subjected to the tirade. Additionally, the customer may not back down from their argument in front of a bunch of spectators, but in isolation, may be more agreeable. Everyone wants to look strong in front of others.
And if the customer is nude for all of this, it may be a blessing for some.