Bad Customers or Bad Policy?

A recent Honolulu Star-Advertiser article drew attention to a popular Honolulu restaurant and their policy of placing certain customers on their “no serve” list. 

Although the restaurant does a remarkable job collecting and recording detailed customer data, including everything from customers’ favorite food and beverages, allergies, seating preferences, birthdays, and even tipping history to create a personal customer experience, they also maintain a detailed list of patrons that are banned from their establishment. 

Those included on their “no serve” list range from customers who displayed unruly behavior to those that submitted negative feedback on the restaurant's comment cards and, therefore, management feels “they can not please, no matter how hard they try.”  Currently, the restaurant has seventeen "former customers" on this list.

One such customer, who was turned away when trying to make a dinner reservation, said he left a comment on the restaurants feedback card, stating that the staff seemed overworked and that his server had too many tables to tend to.  He added that his comments were not offensive or insulting.  Although he had a previous negative incident (for which the restaurant tried to remedy), he said he also submitted positive comments on other occasions. He was baffled by being placed on the list and questioned the sincerity of the restaurant's interest in obtaining honest feedback. (

This article got me thinking...  Outside of abusive, belligerent, and illegal acts, does it make sense to ban a customer for giving negative or constructive feedback?  Shouldn’t organizations use “glitch” feedback as a starting point for improvement?  In tough times, shouldn’t repeat customers be viewed as a valuable asset even if they don’t always provide glowing reviews of your establishment?  After all, they are still coming back, aren’t they?

I’m eager to hear from all of you....Talk to me....What do you think?

Ban list?

Are we in kindergarder or what? This ban list is obsurd. Seems like this restaurant only wants customer's that give them great and positive feedback. How is that going to help their business strive and get to the next level of greatness? Taking constructive criticism is only going to make your organization better than it was before and there is always room for improvement right? That is the only way to know where you are as an organization and also as individuals in the organizaion and to make improvements in those areas. This ban list is only hurting the business mainly because the bigger the list gets, the more customers they will lose. The customers on that ban list have friends and I'm pretty sure they are telling them not to go to that restaurant for any reason. So accepting negative and or constructive criticism is only going to help your business strive and prosper because you will be aware of what you as individuals in an organization need to do to better service your customers. Thats all folks!!

Bad Policy

All businesses should be grateful for customer feedback/comments, especially if you ask for them. We always have room for improvement in this competitive market place.

Time to change your policy!

What a great example of how blind this company is. What is the true reason behind a comment card? - to grow, to learn from your mistakes and improve - Not simply to be reassured that you are doing a great job. If these customers who leave negative comments and are on your "No Serve" list decide to return to your establishment, you better let them in because these customers are your greatest advocates and cared enough to let you know how they think you can even do better. If you did such a terrible job that they left you a horrible comment they will most likely never return anyway! Time to revisit the policy and take a look at why you started providing comment cards in the first place.

Time to Change Your Policy

Thanks for your comment, Alex.  I totally agree that giving feedback is a way of expressing how much you care.  Keep sharing your excellent thoughts.  Happy New Year...glenn

Bad Customers or Bad Policy

I would see comments from customers as something that you have subconsciously asked them to do. And therefore, as a possible "karma" you might need to overcome, especially if you have repeat comments.

If you're not willing to accept comments of any nature, then I don't believe you will allow your business to reach the "extra mile", or on a personal level, accepting and acting can certainly make you a better person - so why draw a line and create a "ban list" in a business?

Perhaps as a practice, I would consider treating every customer as a new customer, no matter how many times they've frequented the establishment. That way, all feedback is seen as new, and you always have an opportunity to improve on the things you missed the first time.

Bad Customers or Bad Policy


I particularly like your comment " I would consider treating every customer as a new customer, no matter how many times they've frequented the establishment...."

I want to encourage all of my clients to heed these wise words.  Imagine how much better we can all be if we adopted this approach.

Thanks for yet another insightful remark and perspective.