When Employees Talk -- And Balk

Jim Luff
Posted on August 19, 2009
EMPLOYEES represent your company. Do you know what they are saying?
At the beginning of summer, I expressed my affinity for good barbecue food in my vacation blogs. Imagine my delight when I found out a new place called The Rib Shack was opening not far from my house. Each time I drove by and saw the smoke coming out of the smoker chimney, I couldn’t wait to stop in and sample the ribs. It was almost as if my mouth was watering just thinking about those smoky ribs.
So, last Friday we finally had an opportunity to make the drive over to The Rib Shack. We find about eight people standing in front of this “walk-up only” building. Only two were waiting to order and the rest had placed orders. I read the menu and decided on a $9.99 dinner. My choices of meat were pork ribs, beef ribs, chicken or brisket. Beef ribs it would be. My side was going to be potato salad although macaroni was my other option. Finally, it is time to order. Or, shall I say, time to start sliding downhill from here.
As I arrive at the ordering station, I start to place my order but a ringing phone interrupts my order process. The girl abandons me to begin taking a phone order. Worse, the caller wants directions! The seemingly 12-year-old girl struggles with directions, looking around and describing various buildings that she sees. She then says, “This is my first day on the job. Can you just MapQuest it?” I wanted to grab the phone out of her hand, give directions, and get back to MY order. As I continue my order, the young lady tells me they are out of potato salad. She says, “I guess they didn’t make enough today so can you take macaroni?” My wife’s order is much easier since she knows she wants chicken and there are no options on the salad tonight. The young girl takes our name and invites us to have a seat at a picnic table.
About 30 minutes later, an employee comes out of the kitchen/shack. He calls my name. Oh, but he is empty handed! He walks over and tells us that the girl is new and she should have never taken my order for beef ribs as they don’t have anymore. They ran out hours ago and “she should have known better.” He asks me if I would like brisket instead. I asked if perhaps I could have pork ribs. At that point he says, “We ain’t got no ribs at all – no beef, no pork.”
He suggests that I have chicken or brisket as if I had other options. I asked him how this could be that THE RIB SHACK has no ribs?! He said he didn’t know but again asked if I wanted chicken or brisket. I ended up taking the brisket and finally being served nearly 45 minutes after arriving.
What I really want is the good ol’ days of good customer service. That is what I REALLY want. So, you think I will be going back? Should I go back?
— Jim Luff, LCT Magazine

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