Breakfast with a Side of Feedback

As a process improvement and customer service enthusiast, inefficiencies stand out to me like a marker in a haystack. I like to call these inefficiencies “opportunities”. Unfortunately, when opportunities and feedback are presented in the business setting, they are sometimes ignored.

Here’s my recent experience:

A few weeks ago, on early on a Sunday morning, I stopped in at my local IHOP restaurant to grab takeout for my all day meeting. It was around 9am so it wasn’t super busy inside (ikely because church hadn’t let out yet). There were a few wait staff scurrying around, a hostess, and an associate at the checkout counter. I was greeted by the front desk associate and offered a menu. I  placed my order, sat down, and observed as I waited.

The counter associate was taking telephone calls, telephone orders, and walk in orders as well as cashing out checks. I watched in awe as she was a jack of all trades. Business quickly picked up during my 20 minute wait and the line stretched to the inner entrance door. The look on her face screamed “help me, I’m overwhelmed!” Unfortunately, no one came to her aid. Finally, a very frustrated customer standing in line spoke up.

“Is somebody going to come and help her? This is ridiculous. She’s answering the phone, taking orders, and cashing us out. I mean, look at this line. You got waiters standing over there patting their heads and then you’re just standing there!” – Angry Anonymous Customer

This customer expressed her frustration to the hostess, whom I actually think may have been the manager on duty. The hostess simply stood behind the podium and indicatedthat there was nothing anyone else could do, “only one person can use the register.” I continued to watch in amazement. I understood everyone’s frustration. I was also appalled that no one did anything to relieve the line or the team member. The circus continued on as I grabbed my food and left.

The opportunity to recover the customer experience right way was lost in the moment. I left there with the impression that the team is disjointed and fail to support each other in crucial times. There was very valuable and crucial information in that angry customer’service feedback. To me, it screamed “where is your teamwork? Do you care about me? Do you hear me?” Managers and team members, treat your customer feedback as if it were a diamond. It is!

What are your thoughts? Have you been the customer or team member in a similar situation? How did you handle it?

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