Customer Service or Disservice

I went to a restaurant for breakfast this morning, and was promptly seated in a booth with a menu, then was told “Your waitress will be with you shortly.” This is where the story begins, and the service ends.

I had arrived at 8:45am, greeted when I walked in, and seated. I sat there with a menu in a packed, understaffed restaurant, debating on what I wanted. French toast. It took me about 5 minutes to decide on that, because they have a lot of great options. I sat there with an open menu on the table, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, still waiting. People were bussing tables, old customers leaving, new customers sitting, still waiting.

Why did this happen?

At this point, you maybe asking yourself, “why did you not just ask for some service?” That is a great question, and there are a couple of reason I did not.

One: I do not believe it is my job to seek out service. I came to YOUR business, with MY money, and YOU should be willing to put in the effort to service. I’ve worked in understaffed, high traffic jobs before. I understand the struggle of keeping up with everything.

“There’s always room for a little more hustle.” – Lance Smith

Two: I was kind of curious how long someone would let this go. What I know to be happening here, is what is called “Pluralistic Ignorance.” Robert Cialdini talks about this in is book “Influence.”

For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens. Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out, and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead. That was two weeks ago today. But Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick M. Lussen, in charge of the borough’s detectives and a veteran of twenty-five years of homicide investigations, is still shocked. He can give a matter-of-fact recitation of many murders. But the Kew Gardens slaying baffles him—not because it is a murder, but because “good people” failed to call the police.  – Excerpt from Influnce by Robert Cialdini

I wasn’t being stabbed in the streets, but the same Pluralistic Ignorance phenomenon was happening. Everyone thought someone else was servicing me, so they did nothing.

20 minutes went by

I decided at this point to be an amiable, and leave. An amiable is someone who displays friendly or pleasant behavior, but really is just saving face. These are the Dark Knight of customers. They seem calm and cool on the outside, but then later PUNCH YOUR BUSINESS IN THE FACE! They don’t want to make a scene, they want to leave peacefully and deal with their concerns in a different way.

I’m not going to figuratively punch this business in the face, I did file a complaint though. I brought up my concerns, my viewpoint (as I discussed above), and let them know that I typically get excellent service from them.

I ended up driving on the other side of town to go to another place I always get great service from, and got something different for breakfast. A hot spiced chai, and raspberry cream cheese croissant. I was actually very pleased with this decision.

Your business & Your customers

This second place I went to ended up having the service I expected. I was still greeted as I walked with with a smile, but was promptly helped, with a smile, and I sat there with my croissant as I awaited my Spiced chai. Which they brought out to me. They didn’t call my name to walk up and pick it up, they brought it to me. That’s always a nice tough. Let the customer just relax, and enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant

What can you do to improve your customer service?

“There’s always room for a little more hustle.” – Lance Smith

Remember that quote from earlier? It’s very true. Put in a little more effort to make sure everyone is taken care of. Train your employees and yourself to be observant, and check up on customers, even if they are not the designated server (or whatever your particular set up is) for that customer. Your employees are a team that are helping make your business grow, and bring an experience above and beyond what is expected. They should work as a team.

Even though they may be competing for commission, salaries, shift bids, tips, or something else, they and You, should not forget the overall purpose of your business. To service people. To bring value that exceeds cost.


I will go back to the first restaurant at some point. I will first wait to hear back from someone who reviews the complaint I filed. I am curious how they quickly they will handle that, and what their resolution will be. I’m not holding a grudge, but now more curious about the level of service they are willing to truly provide. Today may have been a fluke, and for some customers that would of been enough to write them off forever.

“Some customers are looking for just one small reason to leave your business. Don’t give it to them.” – Lance Smith


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