Kris Watkins remembers being stuck in line behind someone who used pennies to pay for their groceries.
What the president of the Tri-Cities (Wash.) Visitor & Convention Bureau experienced more than 25 years ago now falls under the category of "customer service sabotage."
This spring, Pasco High School graduate Joel Anaya has been researching those types of experiences as part of his course work at Washington State University in Pullman.
Anaya, 22, is on target to graduate in August with a degree in hospitality business management. He categorized types of customers who negatively affect another's service experience.
While there is plenty of research in customers with negative intentions, such as shoplifting, Anaya said he became interested in how a customer's behavior within a hospitality or service establishment can affect others.
After analyzing stories reported by customers on four websites that feature customer anecdotes, Anaya came up with seven types of customers who can make for a bad plane ride or meal in a restaurant.
The categories are:
-- A "badmouther," who Anaya said uses profanity either directed at another customer or an employee.
-- A "paranoid shouter," who Anaya said feels he or she has suffered from an injustice over something that is generally minor.
-- Someone with "poor hygiene manners," which Anaya said caught him by surprise.
-- "Outlandish requests," such as paying with pennies or slowing down service for others.
-- "Service rule breakers," those who don't follow social norms, and do things such as cut in line or talk loudly on a cellphone in a restaurant, according to the study.
-- "Bad parents with bad kids," which Anaya said he was uncomfortable about including. "What do I know about being a parent?" he said. But there were enough accounts of those experience that he couldn't ignore it, he said.
-- "Unknowledgeable customers," which Anaya said is the least frequent. However, they require more time because things need to be explained to them.
In her 38 years in the restaurant business, Shirley Simmons, co-owner of the Country Gentleman, said she has seen a little bit of every type of customer.
Experiences akin to those Anaya examined are the anomaly at the Country Gentleman, she said.
Most customers tend to ask to speak to a manager rather than yell at an employee, Simmons said.
But they have had healthy, able adults ask to have their food cut up for them, which isn't something the restaurant employees would normally do because it affects the food's presentation, Simmons said.
"Sometimes, people don't think about what they are asking people to do," she said.
And children running around screaming or leaving messes happens more often than Simmons would like to see.
There isn't much a business can do to prevent some situations without stepping outside of its bounds, Simmons said. With running children, she said she sometimes talks to the child and lets them know about the safety concerns because servers are carrying trays with food.
Coupons are more of an issue, Simmons said, because people will argue about what a coupon can be used on.
Sometimes, businesses can do things to address a situation, such as when movie theaters include an announcement of turning off cellphones before the movie begins, Watkins said. Some business meetings begin with a reminder to turn off noise-making devices such as cellphones.
Anaya said he hopes creating categories may help businesses. Studies indicate a customer who has a bad experience will tell about nine to 15 people, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter will spread those accounts, Anaya said. Businesses don't want their name mentioned with a negative experience.
One area that caught Anaya by surprise, he said, was how often people reported another customer's action as affecting their experience.
The research project spanned about six months as serves as a requirement of the McNair Achievement Program, which helps underrepresented students attend graduate school.
And Anaya may continue his research while working on his master's degree in hospitality management at Purdue University in Indiana.
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