What do you do when a customer wigs out and starts yelling the N-word at a group of teenagers? Do you 

B. Call the police?

C. Do nothing

This is the wrong option. You owe it to your customers of all races to step in when another customer goes off the rails. If you would fire an employee for the behavior, you should step in and stop a customer. 

The Daily Spectrum, reports the following about the incident:

Jordan Jones, one of the men seen in the video, said the woman had been sitting a couple of booths away from them while they ate. Jones said they were at the restaurant for around 45 minutes before the incident took place. 

"We don't know what provoked her or why she thought we were laughing at her," Jones said. "We never spoke to her or even looked at her directly." 

...

"I've never experienced that in my life," Jones said. "I've never experienced something like that in public, and for no one to even step in." 

What was perhaps just as disturbing as the encounter itself, Jones said, was that Denny's management was present and didn't do anything to remedy the situation or calm the woman down. 

Additionally, bystanders and others patronizing the restaurant did not interfere.

"They could have done number of things," Jones said. "The employee said the manager thought it was funny." 

Here is a hint: This is not funny. There is nothing about this that even approaches funny. You absolutely, positively do not allow customers to behave this way.

Kirsten Beitler, a St. George resident (and longtime friend of mine), brought this to my attention. Beitler is the mother of four boys, two of whom are Black. She says:

The news here is not this woman and her disturbed state of mind and she yelled these horrible things at these young men. The news here are the bystanders who did nothing. The business who didn't put a stop to it. Now, who will vote on whether this was a good thing or a bad thing with their future behaviors? That is the question. Who here will learn from this incident, and be the one to stand up the next time they see something like this happening and say "This is wrong!"? Who will be the one to no longer patronize this business? Money is just energy and we vote for people's behavior based on where we use our money. Sorry Denny's, you've lost my business. What if it were my boys that this woman was screaming at? Who of you would stand up and fight for their right to BE? 

She is right. While the woman behaved abominably, she may well have had mental health issues, but the management and other customers should have stepped in. 

Denny's franchise owner Wes Cooper, in a statement emailed to me, said that a server did step in. He says:

"We are shocked and disturbed by the actions of this customer against other guests at our St. George, Utah location. At Denny's, we highly value diversity and inclusion and do not in any way condone or accept this type of behavior and language. We are dedicated to providing a welcoming dining environment for all our guests and in this instance, a server stepped in to confront the abusive customer and asked her to leave the restaurant. While we can't predict or control an individual's behavior, we do apologize and regret that our guests had to endure this customer's  inappropriate behavior, and have taken immediate steps to ensure staff members understand and follow the Denny's process for managing these types of situations." 

I am sure that Cooper will be training his staff in the future to step in. If they feel unsafe doing so, they should call the police. 

This type of behavior is not acceptable and you have an obligation to your customers and your staff to kick out abusive people. If you don't stand up for your customers, you can guarantee that you'll lose the good customers. This is not what you want for your business.

Learn from Denny's bad example and plan for how your staff should handle such incidents in the future. 

Published on: Dec 4, 2017