“It’s not my fault. I’m just here to be pretty.”

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By Gina Trimarco

Living in the tourist destination town of Myrtle Beach, I hope for amazing customer service and experiences for our visitors. I use the word “hope” because I’m often disappointed when I EXPECT amazing service and it doesn’t happen. Often times my expectations are not met. Granted my expectations are pretty high given that I’m a customer service and sales trainer and coach. I would expect most consumers and clients to have expectations that match or exceed the money they spend – they want value in exchange for their investment.

Recently I had two customer service experiences that were so horrible that I’m now writing about them as both a learning opportunity and because I can’t make this stuff up. It’s so sad it’s funny. It was one of my business improv intensive weekends. We give our clients about 75 minutes to go to lunch while my team and I also go to lunch to debrief the morning session and adjust for the afternoon session.

Day one of the weekend we go to Ruby Tuesday. We have Tommy* as our server. We’re sitting in the bar area. Tommy is a bit slow and when he finally makes it over he says: “My station is on the other side of the restaurant.” He’s flustered and already giving excuses for his lack of service. I ask him if it’s possible to order the salmon and be able to be out in 40 minutes. By the way, we waited 15 minutes for him to take our order.

Tommy: “I’m not going to make you any promises. The food comes out when it comes out. I have no control over it.”

My team just looked at me like: “Oh no, did he just say that to HER?”

My response: “Wow.”

Tommy: “Just telling you how it is.”

Me: “I understand that and your delivery could have been a little better.”

We leave and go the mall food court.

Day two comes along and we choose Hooter’s. Yes, Hooter’s. We don’t have a lot of options where we are … and I hear the wings are good! We’re quickly greeted by the effervescent Bambi* and have high hopes for a different experience. We literally all breathe a sigh of relief to get a friendly server who promises us that we will get our food on time. We order at 1:30. At 2:00 half of the order comes out. We need to leave by 2:25. At 2:10, still nothing. Did she forget to order all of our food, we wonder.

We decide that the two of us who have not received our food will take it to go. At 2:15 I ask for the check and Bambi says: “But you haven’t received your food yet.” Ding, ding, ding – give the girl a prize. At least I got her attention! I say: “I know!!! And we have to go. Please box it to go.” At 2:25, still no food to go. I’m fuming. My team heads back while I attempt to get the food. I had already paid the bill.

Bambi is at the bar.

Me: “Any sign of our food?”

Bambi: “No. It’s not my fault. I’m just here to be pretty. I can’t control the kitchen.”

YES!!! She actually said that!!!

Me: “Wow, welcome to Hooter’s! Please take these items off my check.”

Bambi: “A manager will have to do that.”

The manager arrives and continues to tell me how they’re short staffed and three people called off, blah, blah, blah. “It’s a football Sunday”, I want to scream. “How do you not staff accordingly?!”

Whether you work at Hooter’s, run your own business or work in any environment that serves customers, you need to take accountability for what you do. Passing the buck and blaming others only makes you look further incompetent and apathetic. Granted, many things are out of your control and not your fault, but the customer doesn’t want to hear those excuses. They want to know what you can do for them versus what you can’t. They’re giving you money and want a return on their investment.

Customers want solutions, even if they are not the ideal solutions they hoped for. For example, the Ruby Tuesday guy could have said, “You know what? Food has been coming out super slow and I don’t know if the salmon will come out in 30 minutes. I’m sorry. Your best option would be the salad bar.” I wouldn’t be 100% happy with the suggestion, but I’d appreciate his honesty and his attitude and would even consider him a good server based on the conditions.

And the moral of the story is: Have a “pretty” attitude and customers will continue to patronize you.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the guilty and unaccountable.

Questions about any of this? Drop me a line at Gina@ginaANDcompany.com or call me at 843-597-6393.

Gina Trimarco Cligrow owns and operates Gina & Company Coaching & Consulting, a business coaching and consulting firm, in addition to Carolina Improv Company, a business training and entertainment company with a 75-seat theater (Uptown Theater) located inside the Myrtle Beach Mall. She is also the founding Managing Director of the eWomen Network Myrtle Beach Chapter. For more information visit www.GinaAndCompany.com.

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