After the interest shown with How to Eat at McDonald's, with consultation with some readers - it is now time for a follow-up. This time, from the other perspective.
I hope to cover not only how to successfully 'deal' with customers, but on how to develop within your store and how to 'deal' with your bosses. What you learn from being an employee at McDonald's will benefit you in all future dealings with both customers and employers. Of course, all the advice applies to similar business establishments.
I do not represent my employer. Also, I will not claim I follow my own advice all the time. Sometimes enough is enough and it is fun to push the hard line with a customer. Of course, to do this you need to be ready to pay the cost. I have been spat on, had drinks and burgers thrown at me, and had my life threatened on numerous occasions. Ah well.
Dealing with Customers - Customer Delight
There have been many excellent write-ups on e2 regarding the specifics of how to handle customers - How to deal with angry customers being a good example. The best suggestion I can give is, if your position allows it - pass the issue onto a manager. How to deal with angry customers is correct, many businesses don't give their staff any training regarding dealing with disgruntled customers. However, your manager (at least in the case of McDonald's) has been given extensive training in the matter. So leave it to the 'expert'.
In an ideal situation, the manager should be alert enough to notice you are about to get your head ripped off by a customer. However, nobody is perfect, so here are some pointers on how to manage the situation till you are relieved. First of all, immediately apologize to the customer. It doesn't matter if you think their complaint is completely ludicrous, an apology will shut most people up straight away.
If apologizing doesn't solve the issue immediately, just explain to the customer you will need to get your manager to assist them. While you explain this, look at the customer. Do they smell like alcohol? Have they threatened you? Pass on this information to the manager - it will help them determine the best course of action.
Once the manager swoops onto the situation it will pretty much go either one of two ways. Either they will bend of backwards to make the customer happy or they will push the 'hard line'. This depends on a number of factors, such as if the customer is drunk, whether they have a genuine complaint or how polite they are. If a customer is angry but polite regarding the situation (regardless of how minor the issue is), the shift manager will typically help the customer to a very decent outcome. At least, that is how I would do it. It is all about rewarding good behaviour.
If the customer is drunk, then that poor soul has a problem. If he has a legitimate issue, then he will be taken care of. If not, he has no hope. While a drunk customer is more likely to get violent, a customer complaint to head office (the worse thing in the world for a manager) will be largely ignored. The manager will never cross the counter, for their own safety but most likely push the hard line (aka I see no problem here, I can't give you a refund because you found your food cold after leaving it for 10 minutes). If the customer goes on to make threats, the manager will just call the cops, which typically have a cozy relationship with the store. If the disgruntled customer crosses the counter, all bets are off and the company will throw the book at him and protect the staff from any 'issues' that occur during his removal from company property.
A note to angry customers: If you cross the counter - you are fucked. The company will prosecute you to the maximum extent to the law. We will have cops in store within 2 minutes. We will give the cops all the video footage they need. We will give the cops 20 statements from staff saying you were threatening harm to the employees. There will be no good outcome for you. I have had people taken to court who stole from our McCafe a few muffins and then went on to threaten me. It is not a threat we will make your life hell, it is a promise.
If the store is busy, typically the way the manager will handle a customer complaint is more by the book. It is best to give someone an extra burger to prevent them screaming in a full store.
I have seen managers ridicule their staff when talking to a customer who is complaining - in an attempt to shift the blame. This is never acceptable. If there is an issue, it is the managers fault, not the staff member. Sure, they make stupid mistakes, but so does everyone.
That sums up part 1, now for....
Dealing with Bosses - Sucking Ass
All jokes aside, to be a successful employee of the company you will need to make some sacrifices. I was a weird kid (whereas now, I am a weird guy), and while I hated the idea of working at McDonald's before I started, I found it strangely rewarding.
First of all, start out young. To get good, you need to work a lot of hours to practice. To get a lot of hours, it helps if you are young. An employee that starts at 16 will typically always be better than employee that starts at 19 after the same amount of time has passed. Namely due to the extra shifts they get.
Don't cut corners - at least to begin with. Do things by the book and that will buy you respect from the people who really matter, the managers.
Don't work close to home. I always worked in the city when I was younger, and lived in the suburbs. It helps you to meet new people and put you out of your comfort zone. It helps that you are unlikely to see people you know while working - which can be embarrassing.
Be flexible. If you help out the store on coming in on your days off, or staying back when the store is getting slammed you will be loved by all the managers.
It is impossible to like and be liked by everyone in the store. There are always going to be clashes of personality. The only way to deal with this fact of life is to be polite to everyone. You never know who will quite/transfer/get promoted. There is no point in making enemies.
If you want to be promoted, the most important advice is loyalty. I was lucky, I had a store manager who took a liking to me as a crew person who went on to get promoted into a consultant. I transfered stores in order to work for her and she promoted me multiple times. She also saved me when I made some serious mistakes in a store. Some would call this sucking ass, but it wasn't. I have complete respect for her too this day (I don't work for her anymore, as she left the company and I transfered interstate). There is a joke within the company that 'It is not what you do, but who you do', while not necessarily true - it is a job based off relationships. People who like you, will promote you.
However, getting promoted is not the only reason to be loyal to someone. It is hard to explain the feeling satisfaction of having someone that you respect in the workplace. I have had 2 such people that I respect a great deal, and without them I surely wouldn't still be working under the golden arches.
Any other questions? PM me.