CSD: The Customer Service Saboteur
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.
A senior in Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University set out simply to study customers who misbehave, but soon realized that no research had been done on how those customers affect the experience of others.
"Customers don’t just go to a restaurant to enjoy a burger," said Joel Anaya, also a McNair scholar. "They go to have a good time, to enjoy the ambiance of the establishment. If that’s ever affected, if they ever leave liking your hamburger but saying they had a bad time, that’s not a win for the restaurant."
For data, he culled more than 200 accounts of customers annoying fellow customers from four websites: notalwaysright.com, dinnersfromhell.com, flightsfromhell.com and servernightmares.com. Said Mr. Anaya, "There are a lot of weirdos out there."
In analyzing the different accounts, Mr. Anaya came up with seven categories of customer sabotage:
- Badmouthers. The most common saboteurs, they use profanity and raise their voices.
- Paranoid shouters. A close second in the tabulations, they represent really irate customers who don’t know how to handle themselves. Said Mr. Anaya, "They are like badmouthers, but start yelling at the first sign of inadequate service or a perceived injustice."
- Poor hygiene. Said Mr. Anaya, "Quite frankly, they smelled. Or they sweated on other people, wiped their noses, sneezed openly or all of the above."
- Customers making outlandish requests. One insisted on paying at a grocery store in pennies while others had to wait.
- Service rule breakers. Retail tends to flow, but some customers break from social norms like cutting in line instead of waiting their turn.
- Unruly kids. Parents that refused to control unruly children whose behavior is bothering others was another major turnoff to retail customers.
- Unaware customers. New customers that belabor service workers with endless questions or minor quibbles often force others to have to wait longer in line.
Mr. Anaya hopes that managers and workers can use these categories to reevaluate customer complaints.
"It just begins with the acknowledgment as managers to say to your employees, your front desks, your servers, ‘Keep an eye out for them,’" he said. "These are the types of people that exist. These are the types of people that may affect our service quality perception from other customers."
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the overall value of identifying annoying customer types? What can companies/staffs do to better deal with unpleasant customers?