How NOT to React to a Customer
I have worked in the service industry throughout most of my life. Starting all the way back in 1990 at Long John Silvers, I’ve learned how to work with customers. Some people, it seems, need to hone their skills some.
A Facebook Fan Contacted Me:
Rock Dadinski (Name changed) sent me a message through Facebook.
I was at El Espolon in my home town of Sedalia MO today and my son needed his pull up changed and I had to use the ladies room due to no changing table in the mens room. As we were leaving, I told the owner he needed to put a changing table in the mens room and he told me it wasn’t a man’s responsibly to change diapers. I will not be going back there.
Well, any of you who know me, knows this lit a fire under me. And I needed to contact these people to find out what was going on before I blew a gasket and all my awesome leaked out! So, in the heat of the moment, I looked up the company’s website, found an email address and fired off a message for the owner.
I was just contacted by one of your customers…well, let me rephrase that, one of your FORMER customers. He was needing to change his child’s diaper and was forced to go into the ladies’ room to do so. When he said you guys needed to get a changing station in the men’s room, he was told no, because changing diapers is not a man’s responsibility.
Are you kidding me? Are you guys so firmly rooted in the 50′s that you have no concept that the very concept of fatherhood is changing? So, am I to believe your policy is, “If you change a diaper, you aren’t a man.”?
If so, no wonder your customer won’t be returning. I’m very disappointed. It’s 2013 folks. Either get with the times or get left behind. If you DO change your mind on putting a changing station in the men’s room, let me know. I’m more than happy to talk about awesome places that cater to caring and involved parents…OF BOTH SEXES.
I eagerly await your response.
And the reply surprised me. The email bounced. No such address exists. Ugh…so, I did the next best thing. I found their Facebook page. I dropped the message there and promptly got to thinking. “They don’t have a profile image. They haven’t responded to a single person on their page saying the food was awesome. They don’t visit this page very often.”
I waited until the following Monday to give them time to respond. In that time, the original post I put on my Facebook page got twice as many likes as the restaurant page. I’m not saying it’s anything fantastic…but I AM sort of a big deal. I kid! I kid! But it just confirmed to me that I was angrily talking in the dark.
Monday afternoon, I waded through their website, which is fantastic if you love the same Mariachi tune auto-playing no matter how many times you turn it off. (They are called cookies. Most sites utilize those to say, ‘Hey, this dude doesn’t like your music, so mute that noise.’ Not this one, apparently.) While locating the phone number of the location, I discovered they have more locations! (More on that in a minute.)
I called the location in question and was greeted with what sounded like a cordless phone in the back of a kitchen. In between pots and pans clanging I was told the owner would be in after 5.
-An Hour and a Half Later-
I decided to call each of the other locations to see if they had any changing stations in their men’s rooms. I didn’t want to trash the whole chain if one location was the only offender. In the three other locations I called, I got someone on the phone who was very apologetic for not being able to help me. I had high hopes when the phone rang at the final location. A gentleman answered.
I explained who I was and why I was calling and wanted to know if the owner was in. There was a pause. “I am the owner.”
I let him know that I was calling so I could get both sides of the story. He assured me he knew exactly who I was talking about. I could tell by the tone in his voice he was aggravated, whether it was because I was calling him about this or if he was still angry about the exchange with Rock Dadinski…who knows. What follows next is called ‘priming’. It happens any time you run into someone who is trying to sway your opinion. (And, yes, I realize that Rock could have been priming me as well, hence wanting to hear both sides of the story.)
He started in:
“I know exactly who you are talking about. He come in here, maybe once a week. He was talking rude to my servers. Then he come and was rude to me and say I need to get a changing station in the mens room.”
“Yeah, but he told me you said, ‘Changing diapers isn’t a man’s responsibility.’ Where did that come from?”
I asked him how he replied. What I got wasn’t so much an answer, but a history of this guy’s restaurant experience. I learned he has eight restaurants. He’s been in the industry for twenty years. AND that he knows that the customer is always right and he knows how to handle a complaint. To which I repeated my question.
“The gentleman was angry because he had to explain to a woman why he was in line to use the ladies’ room. So, when he brought up needing a changing station in the men’s room, what did you tell him?”
“I tell you exactly what I told him. I told him I think about it. Then he got a smart mouth with me and I told him I have a changing station in the women’s room, if he don’t like it, his wife can change the diaper.”
Needless to say, I had what I was looking for. So, I stopped him with an “Excuse me? What was that?”
“I say I think about putting a station in the men’s room. I never told him it wasn’t a man’s responsibility…he’s making more out of this than there was. I’ve been doing this a long time and no one has ever asked me to put a changing station in the men’s room. It’s not important, no one ever asks.”
I reminded him that I run a blog called “Dads Who Change Diapers” and that I list companies who are dad friendly. I give away free publicity to companies who decide that dads are worth the extra effort. Then, I guess he hadn’t dug the hole deep enough, he decided to bring out a bigger shovel.
“I told him I think about it. I mean, I have an extra station at home. I know how to put them up. But I’m not going to, because no one asks about it. It’s not important.”
Never mind he had a regular customer (once a week is regular, I don’t care who you are) who mentioned a problem. Not being there, Rock Dadinski might have been a real butthole about it…but something tells me he wasn’t as over-the-top as this guys made him out to be. Instead of actually addressing a customer complaint, he decided to not only ignore it, but to go so far as to openly lie about about his intended actions. And this is AFTER saying if the guy didn’t like the arrangement, then his wife should just change the diaper.
Two slips of the lip told me what I needed to know. The owner of El Espolon has absolutely no intention of putting a changing station in any of his restaurants for dads to use. Otherwise, he might have said, “Hey, I have an extra one at home. I’ll bring it in and install it.”
But no, he took the exact opposite route for customer service. And in the process, has alienated a whole lot of men. (I happen to know about 400 of them…and they blog worldwide.)
Do I suggest everyone attack this dude’s restaurants? No. I just suggest, you don’t go. Unless, that is, you value good fajitas over someone trying to be an involved dad.
So, yeah, it could have gone worse. It could have been a knock-down drag-out fight. (Which is what I was expecting.) But it could have turned out WAY better. Instead, I’m left with the feeling that this guy and his machismo doesn’t see where he’s wrong and never will. So, until someone contacts me saying otherwise, this dude is a definite “Boycott”.