The Best Way to Improve Client Relations & Manage Employees

We all know how important customer service is in every business. But how do you instill the importance of respecting customers into your employees? Company culture. Your company’s culture is a large factor in the behavior of employees on the job. If you feel you must always look over your employees shoulder, or micromanage them, they may not be the ones to blame. Marissa Levin of Inc. illustrates this concept in her article about a poorly managed restaurant.

“Not many other jobs teach a strong, collaborative work ethic like waiting tables. It is an amazing training ground for future jobs. It requires servers to work with all kinds of people, to adapt quickly, to read people accurately, and to work as a team. It requires high emotional intelligence.

Every team member  – servers, hostesses, bartenders, busboys, dishwashers, cooks – impacts the overall customer experience.

Owning a restaurant is also one of the hardest entrepreneurial ventures. 60 percent of new restaurants fail in the first year; 80 percent don’t make it to five years.

Two of the main reasons restaurants fail are bad people management, and spotty customer service.

Imagine my surprise when I read about the deplorable behaviors of the wait-staff at one of Arlington, Virginia’s top Asian restaurants, Peter Chang.

The waiters added disparaging comments about the customers onto the check, and then forgot to delete them when they presented the check to the customer. When caught, they were not apologetic. They found it to be funny.

That’s not the shocking part of the story.

I was stunned to read that this behavior is accepted at this restaurant, and that the leadership team does nothing to stop it. There is no accountability for offensive behavior, which basically grants approval and permission for this behavior to continue.

This incident conveys that the organizational culture tolerates customer disrespect. Manager Qien Chang said that servers had been previously warned about leaving offensive comments on checks. “They always do that. I’ve told them so many times.”

Peter Chang’s culture is not a culture of accountability. It is a culture of disrespect.

In cultures of accountability, every team member commits to meeting or exceeding the company’s goals.  Employees understand their connection to the organization’s success.

I completely understand that the servers saw no real harm in their actions. And, really, it’s not their fault. They’ve been poorly trained by a management team that did not convey the importance of customer respect. This has nothing to do with age or experience. This is a direct reflection of leadership.

Ultimately, leadership dictates the core values and the culture of an organization. They must model the accepted behaviors, and institute firm consequences for those that challenge the values system.

Customer respect is a learned behavior, stemming from the top.  Qien Chang could learn a few things from Troy Guard, chef and owner of TAG Restaurant Group in Denver, CO. One of his 7 values is Caring. “This is so important–not just for the restaurant, but for life. You need to care for yourself, care for your team, care for your guests, care for your community.

If you don’t care, why should anyone else?”