Boners BBQ – a Customer Service analysis

Here is a summary of the story:  Boners BBQ is in Atlanta, Georgia.  “Stephanie S.” visited and used a Scoutmob discount coupon and cash to pay for her meal.  Whether she tipped $0 on a $40 meal or not is hotly contested and is commented about in comments on ReddIt and FaceBook.  Stephanie S. complained to staff about the food.  Later she posted a negative review about the business on Yelp, criticizing their food, cooking style, & trademark as a Southern BBQ.  The offended BBQ owner posted a VERY nasty response on FaceBook complete with a picture and foul language.  The owner apologized with a public statement and offered a free meal to Spephanie S. to smooth things over.  What a mess!

Here is a list of links to pages with the story:

From reading the stories and the comments – here is my take on this mess:

  1. The business apologized – great first step.  And I mean it – FIRST step.
  2. The photo of the customer was re-posted with nasty comments about her – WOW! – people would sue over that – I sure hope the take-down correction is accepted.
  3. Condescending remarks about “how I can do it better at home” – it’s a hard thing to just take cheek like that.  THAT is what drives service people nuts – the whole “I’m better than you” line.  Which should only be reserved if the service ticks you off.
  4. Nit-picking – we all have things that we are VERY passionate about, but some people are just NUTS about every detail.  While I do not fault Stephanie S. for posting her review about the food, I am left wondering if she was diplomatic about her complaints.

I read some of the comments – and yes – service people don’t really HAVE much to begine with – they are paid almost nothing, so what they have to take stock in is the emotional investment they make in trying to reach out and care about a customer’s needs enough to anticipate what they might want – in order to get a tip.  It’s REALLY hard work sometimes.

For those who truly care about their work as a waitress or waiter, actively listening to a nit-picker in order to try and fix things “to the right way” is the emotional equivalent of jumping into a river and getting eaten by piranhas.  Nit-pickers chip away at the edge of a server’s pride in their work and the business until the person cannot STAND to hear the sucking of joy out of everything with complaint after complaint after complaint.. GRR.

The solution?  Get the manager and get out.  Invite the person to write everything out, just clear the air and get things going.  Because stewing in anger just doesn’t work well.

So – let’s look at the OTHER side of things – what about the customer?  She is a detailed person who loves to go over the littlest details and wants to assert herself as an authority figure on the world Traditional Southern BBQ.

It’s a tough world out there for cooks and restaurants – there are different styles of “Southern BBQ,” some revolve around old-style “plain” and some are mixed with flavors from other cultures when new tastes became a part of “Southern BBQ.”

Some traditionalists grew up and rejected the Asian Fusion style because of culture shock when facing all these new incoming tastes stemmed from “the others” who came in from outside America.  Asian Fusion “Southern BBQ” makes them feel violated.  It’s personal.  For years, TV shows promoted a sort of nationalism that rejected other countries’ cultures, and this iconic America has stayed in the heads and hearts of many families out there.

So what is a business to do when encountering a detailed customer?  Accept the criticism and have the manager handle the brunt of the criticism.  Keep the beastly words at bay and vent or memorialize the frustration ///away/// from the area or business, in private.  I ended up writing all my nastiness down after work and developed a comic series.  Non-offensive toons were shared with co-workers on lunch breaks.  One of my cartoons was seen by a customer who requested a full-color piece of art 😀 Which I delivered a few days later.

As for this mess – “You get what you give” – the public cried foul about the response, the owner apologized, and now the recovery process begins.

Did the customer deserve what she got?  Only God (and every other opinionated person) knows… but I’ll wager a few bucks the phrase “holier than thou” had something to do with it.

What would YOU do if a customer raised several complaints and said “I could do your job better myself” and then raised a nasty complaint about you on an online review site?


About Amy Barnes

Author has extensive experience in Retail, including two years as a supervisor. Educated in Psychology, Financial Accounting, Criminal Justice, and Programming. Work experience in Law Enforcement, Security (IT), Programming (REALBasic, SQL, VB, JAVA), Retail.
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