Customer encounters #2 – Drunk customers

It’s Friday night, it’s the weekend, everyone’s out getting liquored up and what better cure for an inebriated state than a takeaway?

Last night a woman came in clearly quite drunk and was also a bit shaky. I think she may have possibly taken something else other than alcohol (I wouldn’t know).

Dealing with a drunk person probably has to be a shop worker’s worst nightmare: you don’t know the person across the counter, what they’ll do, if they’ll lash out at you, if they’ll throw up or even if they need help getting back home.

This particular woman was on her own and had her head down a lot of the time. She said “I think I’m gonna throw up” (“don’t you dare!” I internally monologue to myself). We tried to reason with this person that she should go home and asked if she needed a cab or an ambulance.

“No! I’m alright! I just want some plain chow mein! I’ve got the money and all!”

It’s frightening when they leave because you don’t know if the minute they’ll get attacked the minute they leave, and it’s difficult when they argue with you that they don’t want police help.

Fortunately mum recognised this person and knew that she lives quite close by. Just hope she’s ok.

My Paralympic Adventures

Me and my team at Excel in the Paralympic Family Lounge

During the summer I volunteered for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

I was a member of the Protocol team at the Excel Exhibition Centre where they held the wheelchair fencing, judo, boccia, powerlifting and sitting volleyball. I was based in the sitting volleyball arena and got to see many games of sitting volleyball as well as Boris Johnson and Barara Windsor.

Admittedly at the start I was a bit sceptical as to how much games would affect me and I certainly wasn’t expecting the Paralympics to take off so successfully, but the experience itself has been incredible and I’m quite proud to have been part of it.

In some ways the experience changed my attitudes to customer service and also changed the way I approached my job at the takeaway. I was told not to worry too much about it as I was unlikely to be working there doing front-of-house for the rest of my life, and the effect of that was that I just didn’t bother even taking the job seriously.

But since volunteering for the Games, it made me realise that even if it is for the short term, smiling at people wouldn’t hurt anyone and that no matter how mundane the job may be, do it to the best of your ability.

Being a Gamesmaker taught me how to be a better host and what it means for other people, and how a smile, a “hello”, a “thank-you” and even a high-five can really make someone’s day just as much as it can make yours.

Admittedly I do wear my Gamesmaker trainers to work now (I don’t have another pair and they’re comfortable), and I also wear the trousers and jacket, just as a reminder.

Customer encounters #1 – Your food is too expensive

Customer: What’s the difference between regular and large?

Me: *takes out a large and regular container*

C: That much for a container that big?! That’s way too expensive.

M: Well times are tough I’m afraid.

C: Right, well I’ll have a large king prawn chow mein. I’ll only eat here once because I’m hungry. I never spend more than £4 on a meal.

M: *internal monologue* well if you think we’re too expensive for you and you think you’re too good for us then you’re perfectly entitled to take your cash elsewhere.

Now I know it sounds really bad and I should be trying to woo customers to spend their money for our food, but it is that feeling that no one seems to appreciate that we are still in a recession and that it has been tough and that like everyone else, we also had to take the heartbreaking decision of raising prices.

And I know I shouldn’t slate customers who say the prices are too expensive (it’s just constructive criticism), but you can’t help but feel that no one seems to appreciate the fact that we’re trying to cope with the current economic climate.

In all honesty I find it quite hurtful when people give us a dirty look and say out loud our food is too expensive. It’s like they live in a bubble world and haven’t realised that we’re still in recession and raising prices is the only option we have to stay afloat.

No business wants to raise their prices because they know it might drive away regular customers or that our regulars will start spending less. Whilst it is posible to lower prices it would affect our income and you would be hard pressed to find a cash a carry that would sell crates of shrimp or prawns for a lot cheaper than they do now.

I guess it’s fair to say that coming from a Chinese background I tend to be more reserved and more muted with my criticism and try not to kick up a fuss unlike a lot of people who come here.

Next time you go into a small business and complain the prices are too expensive, know that we are trying to do the best that we can and that we would be better off with less customers like you.

Why you no deliver?

“Right, I would like a chicken curry, egg fried rice, chips, chicken balls but instead of the sweet and sour can I have a curry sauce instead?”

“Yep, that’s fine, can I take a name for that please?”

“Yes it’s Dave.”

“Ok that should take about 10 minutes?”

“Great, my address is 19 Green-“

“Oh no sorry we don’t deliver, you have to pick it up and it’s ready in 10 minutes.”

“Oh-right, don’t worry about it then.”

This is probably one of many phone orders where I have to explain to the customer that we don’t do home deliveries. In one instance someone literally laughed down the phone and went “ha, you’re not gonna believe this, they don’t do deliveries!” (Ok, now the right etiquette for that is you’re meant to cover the receiving end…).

Unfortunately our takeaway is one of the few places that never quite caught onto the 21st century where a home delivery for a takeaway is just as normal as everyone owning an iPhone. A takeaway that doesn’t offer deliveries is treated like the person that owns a Nokia 3310; reliable and long-lasting but so not in touch with the 21st century.

In my defence, I only passed my driving test when I was 19 during what must have been my first or second year at university and my parents wouldn’t insure me as I was away from home five days of the week and therefore had no need for a car because I was taking the train home instead of driving.

On the advice of my parents doing driving deliveries just wasn’t feasible because you would have to factor in the cost of petrol as well and also because we are understaffed back at the takeaway. Were I to leave to run an errand during a peak time that things will get a bit disorganised, people will have the wrong bags and so on. In a way I’m a glue of some form that helps hold it together?

The normal person would be willing to get off their backside for a McDonalds and no one seems to mind the fact that McDonalds don’t deliver in the UK (I mean why would you? The objective of McDonalds is that it is fast food and doesn’t take that long to prepare).

Making the effort to travel a slightly shorter distance to a Chinese Takeaway isn’t that much to ask for now is it?

So why not employ a driver then? You ask. That option was never really a serious consideration given that it’s a family business. In a way there is a bit of a reluctance to take on someone we don’t know. Plus there is also the opinion that there might not be a need for a takeaway given that in five years time I won’t exactly be standing behind wok tossing egg fried rice as a full-time job anyway. In other words why waste time on a place that is going to be a dying business when the next generation are not going to be running a takeaway as a full time job?