Customer Disturbance Handling

President's Message

My primary concern is the safety of our employees and customers. The purpose of this document is to prepare employees to effectively handle typical customer disturbance situations and situations in which safety is jeopardized, as well the proper utilization of police resources. All employees are welcome to address safety and security concerns with their manager. All employees must read and receive training in the following guidelines as part of their initial training. 

Equal Public Accommodation

All employees will provide service to all individuals regardless of disability, age, race, religion, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, national origin, and will not discriminate under any unlawful basis. No employee will bar from entry, refuse to provide service, make derogatory remarks, or treat customers differently based on their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability or age.

Non-Escalation Policy

A positive outcome for any interaction with a disruptive customer is what we want. It is therefore vitally important that you as an employee, do not react to disruptive customers in a way that might escalate the "situation". Remain calm, do not argue, and do not engage physically.

Identifying Disruptive Behavior

On occasion, there are individuals whose behavior becomes a detriment to building a steady clientele of regular customers. Some examples of such behavior:

Approaching Disruptive Customers

Your initial reaction to any situation will have a tremendous impact on the overall situation. Making proper decisions early will ensure a positive outcome. Whenever you approach such an individual:

  1. Protect your own safety by approaching carefully.
  2. Remember, other customers will be watching how you handle the situation. The best policy is to treat everyone with respect.
  3. Speak quietly and do not embarrass the individual.
  4. Do not yell at or make threatening remarks.

Suggestions as to what to say in a quiet, non-threatening tone of voice:

  • Odor: I'm sorry but we cannot serve you as your odor is disruptive to others; alternatively we will package your order for carryout.
  • Panhandling: I'm sorry but you cannot ask others for money or food here. You'll have to leave
  • Vagrants: I'm sorry but you cannot enter these premises. Out!
  • Loitering: I'm sorry but you must place an order in order to remain here; -or- I'm sorry but it's time to leave as you have had your meal and are still here after x period of time. (Please use good judgment. There is a difference between someone who remains in the restaurant reading a book, working on a laptop or visiting with friends, versus someone who is just idly hanging around for an excessively long period.
  • Loud: I'm sorry but you'll have to be quieter in order to be served
  • Interferes: I'm sorry but you cannot interfere with our operations
  • Possession of alcohol or illegal substances: I'm sorry but you cannot have alcohol or illegal substances in here
  • Intoxicated: I'm sorry but you seem excessively intoxicated. You'll have to straighten up before I can serve you or I will have to ask you to leave

Taking Further Action

  • This is a warning, I am sorry but you will have to leave.
  • This is a warning, I am sorry but I will call the police if you do not leave, stop, etc
  • Walk over to the phone and pick up the receiver as though you are about to call the police. This may cause the customer to leave without further incident.If necessary, call the police using the Non-Emergency Police # (see the speed-dial list)

Physically Threatening Customer

Our primary concern is the safety of our employees and customers. NEVER intervene in the event of a fight or other threatening customer behavior. NEVER touch or attempt to restrain any individual. If a customer's behavior has become verbally abusive, call the police by dialing the non-emergency # (see the speed-dial list) If the customer's behavior escalates to threats of violence, or becomes violent, this is a crime and dial 911.

3rd Shift Customer Handling

Working the 3rd shift, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, presents some situations that on other nights or on other shifts, you probably will not experience. The obvious reason is that a number of customers, especially between the hours of 2 AM and 4 AM on Friday and Saturday nights, will patronize us after they have consumed alcohol. Most of these customers are just nice people out for a good time. On occasion though, some get carried away and become obnoxious or even worse. In most situations, a smile and a sense of humor will go a long way to effectively handling late night patrons.

Important suggestions for successful late night customer handling:

  • Smile and ask if they had a good time out tonight. (This tends to break the ice and build rapport with the group.)
  • Offer beverages right away and serve those before taking the food order
  • Take the food order and be sure to repeat it back to avoid any misunderstandings
  • Explain that due to how busy the restaurant is, it may take a little longer than usual for their order to be prepared
  • Print the receipt and return to the group for immediate payment as per the pay-in-advance policy on third shift
  • Return frequently to offer beverage refills
  • Return frequently to remind the group that their food is coming - ask for their patience

Call-in Orders 2-4 AM

In order to focus on in-store customer service, you may politely inform phone-in customer's that we do not take call-ins between 2-4 am on Friday and Saturday nights, if the store is too busy to take such orders.

Late Night Complainers and Agitators

During bar time (typically 2-4 am on weekends), if necessary, rather than allow customer behavior that is too loud, too demanding, etc.:

  • Stop what you are doing no matter what it is and deal with the issue. (If you just yell at a customer while you continue working, they'll likely just ignore you.)
  • Speak with authority (but do not yell)
  • Say "This is a warning... no service will begin until the "behavior" stops"
  • Say "This behavior must stop or they will have to leave"
  • Give a refund if necessary if the situation seems to be escalating

Before You Call 911

Image of Stop Sign

Ask yourself... is this a life threatening emergency or crime in progress?

This is because we have been put on notice by the Police Department that our business can be deemed a nuisance if we make 911 calls that are not for life threatening emergencies or crimes in progress.

Has the individual threatened violence or become violent and/or is there an actual crime in progress? If yes, dial 911.

However, for issues such as:

  • Customer won't pay
  • Customer won't leave
  • Customer stole your tip
  • Customer is arguing
  • Loiterering
  • A vagrant
  1. Attempt to handle the situation without police intervention.
  2. If necessary, dial the police non-emergency # (see the speed-dial list) Only call 911 when it is a life threatening emergency or crime is in progress!

Examples of life threatening emergencies or crime in progress:

  • Prowling
  • Battery
  • Robbery
  • Shots fired

What will happen if we overuse or abuse 911?

If the police receive more than three 911 calls in a month, or if they deem any 911 call to be "911 abuse" (such as hanging up on a 911 operator or putting one on hold), the police can invoke a city ordinance deeming a business a nuisance, which has fines and charges up to $5,000 per incident. Call 911 for life threatening emergencies. Otherwise call the police non-emergency # (see the speed-dial list)

Police Call Incident Report

Image of Incident Report Image of Incident Report

For every call to the police department, whether to 911 or to the non-emergency #, it is necessary to fill out a "Police Call Incident Report" immediately after the situation is under control. A written report must be prepared for every call to:

  • 911
  • police non-emergency #
  • pressing of the holdup button

A reminder about when and when not to call 911, along with a "Police Call Incident Report" form is posted on the employee bulletin board and under Forms in the Safety In The Workplace Binder. Please familiarize yourself with the location of these documents.

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