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.

Equal Public Accommodation

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 vital that you do not "engage verbally" or react to disruptive customers in a way that might escalate the "situation". Remain calm, do not argue, and never engage physically. 

Your Initial Approach

Your initial approach will have a tremendous impact on every interaction. Be friendly! Smile! Greet your customer with a genuine "how can I help you" attitude. A sourpuss restaurant worker is not starting out on the right foot.

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

Again, your initial reaction will have a tremendous impact on the situation. Making proper decisions early will ensure a positive outcome. Whenever you approach such an individual:

  1. Remember, other customers will be watching how you handle the situation. The best policy is to treat everyone with respect.
  2. Speak quietly and do not embarrass the individual.
  3. 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 your odor is disruptive to others, we can't serve you. 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. (Use good judgment. There is a difference between someone who remains in the restaurant reading or working on a laptop, versus someone who is just idly hanging around.)
  • Loud/Unruly:  I'm sorry but you'll have to be quieter in order to be served
  • Intoxicated:  I'm sorry but you seem intoxicated. You'll have to straighten up before I can serve you

Taking Further Action

  • This is a warning, I am sorry but you will have to leave.
  • 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 number

Physically Threatening Customer

Your safety is our primary concern. NEVER intervene in the event of a fight or other threatening behavior. NEVER touch or attempt to restrain an individual. If the customer's behavior escalates to threats of violence, or becomes violent, this is a crime, so dial 911.

Successful Late Night Customer Handling

Working the 3rd shift, especially on Friday and Saturday can present some challenging situations. The obvious reason is that some customers, especially between the of 2-4 AM, will patronize us after having consumed alcohol. Most customers are just nice people out for a good time. However, 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:

  • Break the ice with a smile and ask if they had a good time out tonight.
  • 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 for 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.

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.
  • Speak with authority, but do not yell. Sounding angry or yelling will likely escalate the situation.
  • Say "Sorry... I can't take your order until 'the behavior' stops"
  • Say "Sorry but this behavior must stop or you'll have to leave"
  • Give a refund if necessary if the situation seems to be escalating

Calling the Police

Non-Emergency Number

If undesired behavior continues or escalates after your efforts described in this guide to resolve a situation without police intervention, call the police non-emergency number.

Excessive Police Calls

The police is not your private security guard service. Learn to utilize the suggestions and methods describe in this guide before resorting to calling the police.

Calling 911

Sometimes, the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency isn't easy to decipher. Ask yourself... is this a life threatening emergency or serious crime in progress?

Examples of life threatening emergencies or serious crime in progress:

  • An immediate threat to a person or property
  • Screams for help
  • Weapon displayed
  • Gunshots
  • Fire emergency
  • Medical Emergency

911 Abuse

Our business can be deemed a nuisance if we make an excessive number of 911 calls or make 911 calls that are not for life threatening emergencies/crimes in progress. If the police receive an excessive number of 911 calls, or if they deem our 911 calls to be "911 abuse" (such as hanging up on a 911 operator or putting one on hold), the city can impose fines or even take action to revoke our business license.

So again, call 911 for life threatening emergencies or crimes in progress.

Police Call Incident Report

Image of Incident Report

Every police call, whether a non-emergency call or to 911, fill out a "Police Call Incident Report" immediately after the situation is under control.  A"Police Call Incident Report" form is posted on the employee bulletin board.

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