100 things restaurant staffers should never do (plus 1 more)

Last week Bruce Buschel wrote an amusingly useful piece in the New York Times on what restaurant employees should and should not do. It has been popular. A search on Google now shows 124,000 links for the title of this article.

This thrills me because the Buschel made some fine points. He offers excellent advice for anyone who manages or works in a restaurant. As a frequent restaurant customer, I applaud his list. If I found a restaurant that met every one of these standards I’d probably be speechless. But I’d also be a loyal customer because these tips make sense. They fit what I want in a fine dining experience.

And many of them translate well to non-restaurant businesses. So Mr. Buschel has offered a useful guide for any business that wants to improve customer service. It’s worth reading.

But there’s more to this story.

Sprinkled among the flood of supportive comments and links are  a handful of rebuttals. Apparently, these people think customers should be told how to behave.

But they miss the point. Customers are not there to serve us (the employees, the managers or the business). They are not there to cater to our desires or goals. They are there to accomplish something.

It’s our job to help them. When we do that we get paid. That’s the deal. That’s the agreement. (And it’s non-negotiable.)

Sure we’d prefer customers (and managers) treat employees well. Most do. I believe all  organizations work better when everyone gets treated well. And customers almost always get better service when they behave with consideration and courtesy. (Of course they would. It’s human nature to treat people well when they treat us well.)

But the customer is not there to make sure we feel good. They did not show up at our door or website to make sure we’re getting what we want. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s just not their job. It’s not their responsibility.

As a customer, unless our behavior is especially horrendous, we shouldn’t have to tolerate a school-marm scolding about it. And we won’t. We’ll simply do business elsewhere.

If your employees share the attitude of those who felt the need to rebutt Mr. Buschel’s article, then you might have a problem with customer service. Deal with this.  Because a customer service problem will eventually become a revenue and profit problem.

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz