McDonald’s McNugget Violence: Are customer expectations too high?

Spoken | August 9, 2016

On August 10, a video of Ohio woman Melodi Dushane angrily assaulting a McDonald’s drive through customer service representative surfaced and quickly spread through a series of YouTube embeds.

In the video, Dushane leaps through the window to assault the representative, who has informed her that she can’t be served McNuggets because it is too early. After the representative fends off the attack, Dushane throws a bottle at the window, breaking it.

So I’m inclined to ask: are our expectations of customer service too high? Do we as consumers have an unrealistically high sense of entitlement? Do we expect that any representative of any company should bow to our will in the name of “the customer is always right,” no matter how unreasonable our request?

Customers aren’t always right. So what should we in the service industry do about it? How far do our responsibilities go in terms of making the customer happy? As Christophe Van Bael has recently pointed out, maybe before we start trying to delight our customers with exceptional customer service and the “extra mile,” we should just focus on trying to get the basics right first.

OK, so we can probably all agree that in this case, McDonald’s did provide the basics, and the customer was a tad unreasonable. (And, as she admitted in court, drunk at the time). So maybe Dushane doesn’t represent the public at large in terms of customer expectations. But it seems to be she is only a step or two beyond some other perfectly sober customers who feel the need to embrace “the customer is always right” in order to bend the rules to fit their situation.

So… what about the customer who arrives at 10:59 a.m. before the lunch menu begins at 11:00 and is told the same thing? Does that customer have an unreasonable sense of entitlement? Or is the customer service rep being a jerk and applying the rules too stringently? I look at this video and wonder, on my very worst day, could I ever get that worked up about a bad customer service interaction? I’ll admit that I’ve been the customer in some situations in which my expectations were high and my fuse was short.

I suppose it comes down to this: if both the customer and the representative have the presence of mind to ask the questions, “were my expectations too high?” and “was I being unreasonable?”, there is hope for the industry. It’s when one side or the other ceases asking the question that interactions go awry.

The Huffington Post reported that Dushane was intoxicated at the time and has been sentenced to 60 days in jail as well as paying damages.

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