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Tag Archives: service

New Frontiers

As an old customer of Verizon FIOS, I was transferred with many others to Frontier.  I never had any significant issue with the transition.  Yeah, their web portal sucked for a while, but my service was uninterrupted and my rates didn’t change.  I had renewed my contract just a couple of months before the changeover.

A lesson I’ve learned, but will probably never be able to apply again is, don’t make any changes to your grandfathered account.  Recently, I decided to change my home phone number.  I never used it, but my ex-wife used it everywhere and all the phone line did was fill up the voicemail with her collection agency calls.  So I wanted a fresh start.  I called Frontier and over a couple of calls, I had a new number.

The next month, I got a bill in the mail from Frontier.  That was odd, because I didn’t think I had any real service done.  The bill was my monthly statement.  That is odd, because I had paperless billing activated.  Further the bill was not for my usual amount of $106, but for $165.  That’s no good.  As I was scanning the papers, I noticed my new phone number was now my account number.  I was suddenly a new customer to them, one with no promo pricing.  That’s no good at all.

I logged in to the web portal and saw that all my past bills were inaccessible (since they were under an old account number) and my autopay was deactivated.  So I got on the phone with billing support.  The guy was pretty confused about the whole situation and eventually gave up, saying the department that needed to handle problems like that was gone for the night.  They would call me the next day.  Unsurprisingly, they didn’t.

I called back during normal business hours and got someone more experienced.  She understood that all that was needed was to restore the discounts on my account.  So after a bit of work she said she couldn’t get it back the way it was.  The reason is that my cable package was migrated from Verizon and there was no Frontier equal.  My bill would go up by about $10/mo.  I kept my mouth shut and the rep said she would transfer me to “retentions”, who would have more power to change the billing.  Ok, then.

The retentions rep also understood the problem and worked to put the discounts back in.  Unfortunately, she still didn’t have any access to restore my cable package.  However, she explained that my cable package was going to change from about 20 channels to 75 channels.  And that’s not so bad.  I rarely watch TV, but the one time I checked it all out, the online channel guide was useless because I couldn’t filter it to only my subscribed channels.  So I always got “this channel is unavailable”.

So, for the privilege of changing my phone number, I had to upgrade to their lowest cable package, which was more than my existing package.  To be fair, that change was inevitable.  I would have to bite that bullet when my renewal came about.  In the end, I got a $25 credit, 75 channels, and the ability to stream cable through my Roku devices.  All for an extra $120/yr.  Oh, and a new phone number, which is really all I wanted.


When Bad Meets Good

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the GF and I did something bad.  It wasn’t something I was planning on doing, intending to take a stand against change.  We went out shopping on Thanksgiving night.

And, as you can probably expect, we weren’t alone out there.  It was actually a pretty surreal experience.  I hadn’t been out shopping on Thanksgiving in many years, just assuming everything except gas stations and convenience stores would be closed.  But here we were, in the local mall, with a relatively large crowd, late at night.  The mall was open until 11:00pm.

I have long expected this holiday shopping season to be insane, mostly because of what I see in restaurants.  Restaurants are crowded again.  People have money again, somehow, and they’re spending it.  That’s going to translate into big retail gains.  Mark my words.

But anyway, I didn’t want to go out on Thanksgiving.  I did want to go out on Black Friday, probably in the afternoon, after the pre-dawn madness died down.  I wanted to get televisions.  I was at the point that I had zero televisions in my house.  The only one I did have was a 27” mono tube TV from the 90’s.  I hadn’t used it in years and finally disposed of it in the great purging earlier this year.

So this year, I wanted to get somewhat up with the times.  I couldn’t really expect to do any entertaining without a TV in the house.  That would make me seem just a little weird.  I figured I would get a TV for the living room and one for the master bedroom.  I spent a little bit of Thanksgiving morning comparing models and prices.  I had some options from HH Gregg, Sears, and Best Buy, with Best Buy being the pretty obvious leader.

At the mall, we hit a clothing store and got the GF all hooked up in the wardrobe department.  That’s really all we came for, but we just meandered down to Sears to see what was going on there.  Sears is widely believed to be on the ropes and is expected to close up next year.  The death of Sears has been predicted every year for the past decade, but they just keep chugging on.  The prospect of Sears closing does make me sad, because I like Sears.  They’ve pretty much always been there when I needed something.

We end up in Sears and go to the electronics section.  It’s pretty empty.  There’s some people looking at appliances, but the other sections are unexciting.  The shelves seem lightly stocked and it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of choices.  Something seems depressing about the whole setup.  I repeat, no excitement.

Regardless, we start looking at what TVs are available.  I’m initially disappointed because all I see are 4k TV’s, which is not what I need.  As I move down the isle, getting tucked into the corner, I see the 1080p TVs, and the prices have gotten more in line with my expectations.  In fact, they’re pretty good.  The GF is checking out smaller TVs, in the 24” range, and they’re reasonable, too.

Since television is not a high priority to me, I can easily get by with a lower-end TV without a lot of features.  Accordingly, I budgeted about $450 for each TV, hoping to get somewhere in the 45”-55” size range.  These TVs at Sears fit the bill.

Then, about the service.  There were a few salespeople milling about and one came up to us asking if we had questions.  We asked about the capabilities of some of the smaller TVs and then discussed some of the bigger TVs.  We made our choices – a 24” Samsung smart TV for $120, a 50” Samsung for $349, and a 60” Samsung for $579.  We walked out with the 24” and arranged to pick up the bigger ones at their pickup area around back.  Really, no more than 10 minutes and we were done.

That needs some extra emphasis.  We got personal service and were done with our transactions in about 10 minutes.  You try that at Best Buy.  You try that at Best Buy on any other day, even non-holidays.  And the Sears staff loaded the TVs into the car for us.  I didn’t even wait more than a couple minutes in the pickup area.  I was more than willing to pay extra to avoid the experience of fighting through Best Buy.  One of the salespeople commented that he just got off the phone with a friend who was over at Best Buy.  They had 2-hr checkout waits.  There you have it.

After we got our purchases home, I jumped online to see how much of a premium we paid for the Sears experience.  Turns out it was pretty much all the same.  Because I wasn’t researching 60” sizes, I was surprised to see the prices were the same between the stores.  The 50” might have been $40 more, but it may have been a slightly different model, too.  The 24” was the same price, too.

I had planned to go to places that weren’t considered to be ground zero for technology deals, anyway.  But I am amazed at how well it all turned out.  No stress, personal service, and great prices.  You should always go off the beaten path and explore.  If you don’t get better service, you will probably get something more unique, both of which have tangible value.


The idiot boxes have arrived.

Service Standards

It’s a new month, so I need to keep my post stats active every month – here goes nothing.  This is something I’ve mulled over for some time, but never gave it much internal analysis until recently.

Restaurant kiosks are starting to proliferate.  My reaction to them ranges from indifferent to disgust.  The first kiosk on the scene was at Chilis.  And at this place, I am indifferent to the presence of the checkout device.  I use it without any issue and I’m out.  Next up was Olive Garden.  This one irks me.  I try to pay for my meals through the waitress, and if I’m made to pay through the device, I always leave a comment that I hate using it.  The most recent arrival is at McDonalds.  This one really irritates me.  After a few interactions with these huge devices, I gave thought to my feelings.  Why do I not mind kiosks at Chilis, dislike them at Olive Garden, and hate them at McD’s?

In the Chilis/OG setup, I know that I disliked OG’s more because it cheapened the dining experience.  Go ahead and laugh that I think OG is a “dining experience”.  But it is a full service restaurant.  So is Chilis, but the atmosphere at Chilis is definitely less formal.  Go ahead and laugh that I think OG is “formal”.  Whatever.

So if I don’t mind that Chilis is informal and has kiosks, then why do I have an issue at McDs?  It sure isn’t more formal than Chilis.  I gave it a lot of thought and this is what I came up with.

At McDs, a part of my satisfaction of the meal is the service.  You can laugh and say that’s a pretty low hurdle, and you’re right.  And you’d be surprised how often it isn’t met.  Or maybe you wouldn’t.  But when it’s good, it makes things pretty awesome.  Think of it like a shitty baseball team.  You want them to win.  You know it’s a long shot – a really long shot.  But when they put up a good fight and still lose, you can still have some pride.  You know they really tried.  They’re just not good.  Doesn’t that sound like your typical McDs experience?

Oh wait, I had a better example that explains how I feel about this.  Imagine a band playing at a concert.  There’s an awesome song you want to hear because it has this really technical, difficult part in it.  Even if the band messes up the part, it’s still great.  You know they can do it (because they did it before, when they recorded the album), so you give them a pass.  Maybe they mess it up at every concert you go to, but you still love them for trying it.

Now imagine the band determines that they just can’t play the song like they did in the studio, so they decide to cut out that section.  They just don’t play it.  Yay, no more mistakes.  But you get no satisfaction out of seeing them try and maybe they’ll actually kick ass and get it right.  That would be awesome after so many times of seeing them get so close.  But, they cheated.

And that’s what McDs is doing.  They’re cheating.  They know they suck at the service part, so they’re cutting it out.  But they don’t always suck!  A lot, yes, but not always.  And I want to be there when they don’t suck – that makes it awesome.  But they’ve taken that potential away.

So now when I go to McDs (3 out of 4 of the locations I go to have kiosks now), sometimes I get a cheerful person introducing the device and how to use it, and sometimes I get nothing.  Either way, I’m in no mood to talk to a person.  That’s not what McDs wants, clearly.  And that ruins my meal.  It’s like buying food from a machine.

Currently, they are bringing the food to your table, but I expect that practice will probably stop and you’ll just get your number called and you have to pick it up.  Then they will probably just wall off the kitchen and serve you through a small window.  Maybe you won’t even see a person back there anymore.  Maybe there won’t be people there anymore.  Time will tell.

In Memoriam, In Advance

I stopped by my local pool place last weekend for some chlorine.  At the checkout they had a sign stating that as of August 1st, they will no long accept credit cards – cash or check only.  I asked for more clarification, no debit cards either.  So, I give them about 2 months to live.  Definitely won’t see 2017.

This business had recently tried implementing a “cash discount” and that didn’t seem to work, because I don’t see those signs anymore.  I’m very confused as to what their logic is.  Accepting a check is probably more risky than accepting a credit card.  No one carries $500 around with them to buy a chlorine generator.  It’s unlikely businesses would set up accounts with them unless they can do monthly invoicing and hold out the net 30 terms.

I thought this would make their online sales unworkable, but a quick check shows that their website cart uses PayPal.  This raises even more questions.  Why not get a PayPal mobile card reader and use the same account for store sales and online sales?

I mean, if they are getting hammered with CC swipe fees and TX charges, they need to renegotiate.  Or they need to look at their margins.  I’ve always known that the ones paying cash were getting shafted because a store’s prices had to assume that CC fees would be included.  I’m puzzled by this in the same way I’m puzzled that gas stations can survive with Cash/Credit pricing.

But in the end, my guess is they won’t be sticking around much longer.  Here’s the important thing.  They’ve made a decision they can’t easily take back.  They may get one more transaction out of each customer (they already got mine).  But after that, customers like me aren’t going to return.  If they realize their decision has now brought the business into a death spiral and they want to start accepting credit cards again, who’s going to know?  All the former customers have written the business off.  They could put a banner out front saying “We fucked up and we accept credit cards again!” but that’s some serious crow to eat.  Maybe the banner will be “Under New Ownership!” which might invite old customers back to see if the payment options have returned.

It’s sounds like another case of small-business America dying, but sometimes that death is caused by a self-inflicted injury.

You Don’t Get What You Don’t Pay For

Applying the concept of the tradeoff triangle – Good/Fast/Cheap; pick two, I recently had the opportunity to choose zero.  Or maybe I got them all, just in a crappy way.  I’m talking about visiting an urgent care clinic.

As you may have seen in past posts, I’m not a fan of health.  Luckily, I don’t get sick.  Until I do, that is.  And when I do, I usually stick it out until I’m better, or in some future instance, I die.  Well, this was a case where I wasn’t getting better, but I wasn’t dying quickly enough to get over the annoyance of being sick.  And since I don’t really have a primary care doctor, I went to a clinic.

Since I don’t really have a doctor, I’m not sure what is routine and what isn’t.  But I’m pretty sure if they cared, they wouldn’t weigh me with my pockets full of stuff.  And they would probably check my temperature to see if I had a fever.  Maybe check my heart rate while they are checking my blood pressure.  Maybe they would show a little bit of interest in me.  But, maybe not.  It’s just a walk-in clinic.

Maybe they would actually protect their customers’ personal information.  Posted throughout the clinic were signs that stated there were scammers calling their patients and asking questions similar to a satisfaction survey.  The problem is that through some phone trickery, the call would cost you $3/min.  My question is, how are these scammers getting your patient’s contact info?

To sum up the entire visit, I recited the primary symptoms I had: trouble swallowing, swollen tongue and tonsils as well as secondary symptoms I suspected were relevant.  All this was entered in some cloud-based web application. (I initially thought he was searching WebMD for the answer.)  Then the doctor came in, looked in my mouth (not even using a tongue depressor) and said, “yup” and entered an antibiotic prescription in the web app that was sent to my Walgreens.  That was it – he said the medicine should work in 7 days, but if not, there were 3 more days on the prescription.  He walked out and I walked out of the building.  But not before forcing him to make physical contact with me by shaking his hand.

I left with a prescription that should fix what ails me, but I didn’t leave with any encouragement that I was going to get better.  That is depressing as hell.  But, I guess I did expect a bare-bones experience.  In my tradeoff, Good was not chosen, Fast was fast in the wrong part of the experience, and Cheap was pretty much the entire experience.  This does little to promote any desire for longevity in me.

You’re Welcome

Every time I read something from Ayn Rand, I get really irritated.  Yet at the same time, whenever I try to do something just for the benefit of others, I also find myself irritated.  It seems you can’t do anything for anyone without hitting some issue.

I like writing software.  It’s a great profession and it gives me plenty of opportunity to experiment, create, and solve problems.  It’s not always work for me.  So there are plenty of times I will create a small utility to fix something or make a task easier for me and I think maybe someone else would find some use from it.  So, I put it out on the Internet.  The idea is nothing new and is pretty well known as open-source software.

I’d been hesitant to do any promotion of my latest creation because I feared a backlash of people that are, in modern vernacular, “haters”.  They contribute nothing but criticism and have no intention of ever offering help.  You know, “I’d love to contribute to your project, but your coding style sucks.”  “Too bad it’s in VB.NET, I could really add some features.” “If I helped out, I’d end up rewriting all of it.”  None of these statements have happened, but they are very likely coming from the elitists out there.

A few days ago, I tentatively responded to a couple of forum messages suggesting they try my utility to solve their problems.  On one forum, someone replied and said they got an error message.  So, I responded with some troubleshooting suggestions and gave a link to my blog for more information.  When I submitted the message, the forum told me my message was marked for review.

Later that night, I got a private message from a forum moderator saying that I was receiving a warning for posting a link to my own blog.  This was not allowed because it was considered “self-promotion”.  Then the message gave an excerpt of the community rules and a message that I was expected to follow them.  As a final insult, the moderator requested a “Read Receipt”, which basically says, “I want you to tell me you’ve seen this so you can’t argue this in the future.”

That completely spoiled my day.  Here I made something to help people, and I have information to share, but I’m not allowed to post it.  The moderator took the time to verify my link when to my personal website, but didn’t seem to notice there was no spam, advertisements, or solicitations on it.  If I had replied as a different person and posted the same link, it would have been fine, because it wasn’t “self-promotion.”  Posting information about another person is fine; posting information about yourself is bad.

I don’t even know where to go from here.  The urge to be extremely childish is really, really strong right now.  But how do you even talk sense into people with a viewpoint like that?  The best course of action is to just walk away, and the assholes win again.  As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

Their Missed Opportunity

It’s pretty ridiculous that I have to convince myself that I should be outraged about what happened and that I am justified in my outrage.  It’s a sad state of affairs that the level of service for just about everything has dropped to non-existent and when you experience non-service, it’s just a matter of, oh, that’s just how it is.

As I previously mentioned, someone broke the side mirror off my car, and I now have the replacements.  I want to get them painted, but who should I call?  In my former car incident, I had my bumper repaired and I was very pleased with the repainting job that was done.  So I emailed my contact at Progressive and asked who did the work so I could go back there.  They gave me the info, no problem, and were happy that I was pleased enough to ask for a referral.  That’s the high point of this event.

Yesterday, I headed to the body shop’s location after work.  Their business is in the heart of the downtown area.  Not the best area of town, and some of the worst traffic around.  Something like 30 minutes for 12 miles of travel (with no side mirror to help me change lanes).  So I’m a little frazzled by the time I get there.

I go into the office and a woman behind the desk is on the phone.  She tells the person on the phone to hold on a minute and asks me what I need.  I explain I want to discuss getting some mirrors painted.  She then says I need to speak to Carlos, who is not there right now (maybe at a dealership?).  She asks if I can come back tomorrow.  I reply, “Well, I’m in the area today…” hoping to get some help now.  She didn’t have any response, so I said (with a hint of sarcasm), “I’ll be back later” and left.  Fuck them.

There are so many ways this could have ended up differently, and a lot of them are just simple timing.  But, here’s the thing that I keep thinking:  There’s only one person in your entire business who can take care of my request and he’s not here, so effectively, your business is closed to new customers.  You have a shitty business.  Yeah, I’m sure they’re doing fine since they have partnerships with insurance companies and dealerships and so they don’t need me.  Well, I don’t need them either.

The other thing that gets me is, this receptionist has no interest in her employer’s business or in any potential customer’s needs.  First of all, the person she was talking to on the phone was either not important enough to give her full attention to or was more important than me.  Or, I’m just interrupting her phone call.  I could have waited a while to get her full attention, but she decided that wasn’t going to happen.  Next, she was completely useless for me.  She told me who I need to talk to and that was it.  She had nothing to say about the company, the service (ha!), what kind of information I would need, nothing.  She didn’t offer to let me talk to anyone else who might have more information for me.  And how about this?  She didn’t ask for my name or number so they could contact me.  No, I have to come back to them.  Her entire interaction with me said, “Talk to Carlos.  That’s not my job.”

The last time I got irked like that was many years ago when I was shopping for car tires (hmmm, an industry issue?).  I had stopped at a place and asked what tire models they had for my car.  The guy rattled off a few and I asked if he had some paper to write them down.  What I expected was for him to write the options down, but instead, he got a pen and some paper and pushed it towards me.  I was a little stunned by that.  As I’m recounting this, I’m thinking, why was I offended?  And it’s probably more than just the courtesy of him doing it for me, it’s the lack of efficiency involved.  This guy knows the tires and the prices and can jot them down quickly.  Now he’s made more work for both of us, because I have to ask him to repeat himself and maybe ask for spellings while I transcribe.  And he’ll probably be annoyed he has to slowly list these things.  I’ve never seen a case where laziness beat out “it’d be faster to do it myself.”

Gas Runners

A few days ago, I was driving home and saw a couple of gas stations with different gas prices.  The one station’s prices were “cash only”.  It got me thinking about a couple of things.  First off, I thought that there isn’t any incentive to go to a cash-only station if the prices are practically the same.  I wondered if it was a desperate concession for the station owner to implement surcharges for credit cards.  This led me to consider gas stations as a whole business.

With any business, you have income and expenses.  You can play with these elements in any possible way to create profit, that is, more income than expenses.  When you are selling gas, you have one income source – gas sales.  You would have many, many expenses – licenses, maintenance, labor, taxes, utilities, and on and on.  One of those expenses would be credit card processing fees.  Like I said, play with these sources to create profit.  Eliminate CC fees and you may make a profit, or more of a profit.

With larger gas stations – ones with integrated convenience stores – you would have multiple sources of income, including food/merchandise sales and possibly lottery ticket sales commissions.  Your other expenses may go up too, but we all know that buying anything from a convenience store is not the cheapest choice.  You are paying dearly for the convenience.

So, by having the C-store, your profits from one sector can offset the expenses from the other.  You can absorb the CC fees because your C-store sales are subsidizing them.  This made me wonder how gas stations could even survive without solid c-store sales.  Maybe this is why they have to sacrifice CC processing.

So now, on to my idea.  You have a gas station with customized gas pumps.  The pumps have a large touchscreen that performs as a kiosk.  After you swipe your card to activate the pump, the screen allows you to purchase items in the store.  Within the store are one or more “runners” that will pick and run the items out to you at the pump.  That’s it.  A simple idea.

But more than just simple, this is an improved form of convenience – you don’t even have to go inside the store.  You don’t have to run your credit card twice – your gas and purchases are combined on one receipt.  The store doesn’t even have to be customer-accessible.  It could be optimized for quick-picking.

The ordering kiosk software could remember people by their credit card numbers and provide frequent, recent, and favorite item lists to choose from.  As with everything modern now, you could tie it to an online profile where the customer could review purchases and create lists of favorite items to be shown on their next visit.

If you haven’t determined it by now, this is how a small station could compete with a large C-store.  You have the extra income stream of the merchandise sales, but a much lower overhead of running a large store, including maintenance, taxes, cleaning, utilities, and more.  And, in some ways, the service level would be higher.  With so many people in a rush, saving the time of going in, shopping, and standing in line to pay (again), all that time is saved.

Food Bitching, With A Twist

Here we go again.  Another restaurant on my blacklist, which is a shame because I’ve been very tolerant of them in the past.  But this incident had a a new, unexpected element to it.

I arrive and wait for attention.  This is typical.  I have no idea why this restaurant doesn’t have a host.  Finally, a man notices me and tells me I can have a seat anywhere.  And I do.

He brings me bread and a glass of water and says the waitress will be by soon.  Huh.  I guess they did get a host.  Good for them.  A lady comes out and takes my order.  Coke, salad, and an entrée.  Nothing fancy.

After a while, the host comes back out and asks if I need anything.  I just placed my order and I have bread and water, so, no.  I’m fine.  Good, attentive host.

Another party comes in and sits in the booth in front of me.  The waitress is apparently good friends with them, since they texted each other before arrival.  When the waitress eventually comes back around to take their order, she sits in the booth with them, chats with them for an extended time, and in-between, takes their order.  I’m thinking, “Where’s my coke?” 

Waitress goes away, checks on another table, then brings the neighboring party’s salads out.  Um, where’s my salad?  She goes away, comes out and clears a table, checks on another table and refreshes their drinks.  At this point, my water is empty and I’m being completely ignored, even when she looks right at me.  As I sit and stew, I decide:  It’s on.

At last, the waitress brings out my entrée.  I say thank you, then turn on the asshole mode.  “Now, may I have my Coke, my salad, and a refill of my water.  Please.”  She is stunned for a moment and says the other guy is my waiter.  What?  I thought he was the host.  She took my order.  She brought my food out.  I thought she was my waitress.  I tell her such.  Nope, they had switched.  She said that she got the Coke and salad ready, but he just left them there.

Wait.  She just admitted that saw my drink and salad sit there in back and did nothing about it?  She says the guy is new and she doesn’t think he’s going to work out.  Yeah, I never saw him again after he asked me if I needed anything, but I didn’t think he was a waiter.  In hindsight, why wasn’t he bussing the tables?  Hmmm.

Anyway, she apologizes and says she will get my Coke and take the salad off the bill and talk to her manager.  I’m semi-sympathizing with her at this point because of the misunderstanding that (at the time) I didn’t realize was more her fault than anything.  But then, a challenger appears!

The guy in the booth in front of me half turns around and says, “This is my first night here, and I’ll be your waiter.”  Remember, this guy is close friends with the waitress.  Obviously he’s been there plenty.  I didn’t quite get where he was going with his statement.

I chuckle and say, “Oh, I’ve been here several times." 

His voice changes slightly and he says, “This is a good place to eat.” 

Instinctively, I sense he’s a bit peeved about my dressing down of his friend.  I reply sympathetically and emphatically, “You’re right, this is a good place.” 

His voice changes more significantly and he orders, “Then shut the fuck up and enjoy it.” 

Dramatic pause.

Using a tone I have mastered that basically says, I have to say this, but I don’t mean a word of it, I reply,  “I’m sorry if I offended you, sir.”

He delivers more rambling f-bomb accusations with his back to me.  His wife is saying, “Honey, stop.”

Well, that’s that.  Without a bite of my food, I say, “You know, I don’t think this is a good place.” I remove my napkin and stand up.  I walk by his booth and say to him, “Thank you very much, sir.” 

I go to the waitress, who, despite the situation I put on her and the one happening between me and her friend, is helping another table… before she gets my damn Coke.  I put a bill in her hand and say, “Here’s $10 for the food. I won’t be eating here again.”  She chases after me trying to give the money back, but I shooed her off.

Sometimes the poison isn’t just the staff, it’s the patrons, too.

Advances in Management Through Nudity

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.