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The Angry Starbucks Customer

I sat comfortably in Starbucks this morning enjoying their coffee and free internet.  I felt very productive after deleting 30 messages from my Spam folder.

While checking my inbox I noticed a minor commotion.  A customer had asked for room for milk in their coffee but apparently the barista forgot to do so.  By the noise that this person was making you would have thought the barista had shot his dog.

What’s wrong with some people?  Okay, the person got your order wrong.  Mistakes happen.  That’s not a reason to demean them as a human being.

You’ve probably seen this behavior in restaurants.  Some dude orders his steak medium and it comes out medium rare.  It’s fine to point this out to the staff.  They are paying for a product or service and they deserve to have done to their liking.  But don’t be a raging jerk about it!

And then I realized… these ornery customers have teeth.  We occasionally see these people as patients!

Coffee queues at Starbucks

I’ve outlined my 5 Red Flags that Make Me Want to Fire a Patient and these people are guilty of a few of them.  There are people who walk around with bottled up rage and they can’t wait to take it out on a poor, unsuspecting person, usually for something trivial like getting a Starbucks order wrong.

We all encounter the angry Starbucks customer/angry restaurant guest.  I think it’s helpful to use this kind of terminology when discussing troubled patients with your team.  Some people are just happy to be miserable and we may go crazy trying to please them.  We should always be pleasant and accept their frustrations with a smile; just like a fine restaurant will do.  We are in a service industry.  But we should remember to not take their frustrations personally.

At my End of Day huddle, I’ll thank any team members who were professional and courteous to patients who were rude.  Although this type of encounter is very rare, I believe it’s important to let staff know you appreciate their awesomeness.  It also gives the team a moment to vent about the person.  If someone feels that they will have a chance to blow off some steam later on they will probably be less likely to lose their cool in the heat of the moment.


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