Monday, January 7, 2013

Chopped Chicken Fiasco

It was a disappointing response. I had pointed out to a couple of people that a chicken bone was found in my Spicy Chicken Torta. The first person, a young male waiter, never came back to tell me that he told anyone about the problem. The second person, a young female waiter, promised to follow-up on the matter. However, I never heard back from her either. When I asked if she had mentioned the problem to the chef, she told me that the chef hadn't been in the kitchen when she went in there. She immediately went to the kitchen. By now, I'm sure that the bone pieces had been thrown out.

I wasn't expecting a reduction in the meal price. I was expecting that they would acknowledge the problem and assure me that they would take steps to prevent another customer from getting bone in their chicken sandwich.

If the chef had come to talk to me, I imagine the conversation would have gone like something like this. Based on the response from the wait staff, it doesn't seem like any problem-solving education had taken place at this restaurant. Maybe they've never had a problem before.

"Sir, I hear you had a problem. We'll take care of the bill for you."
"Thank you. However, I'm more interested that this problem doesn't occur for other customers. So what will you do about that?
"What do you mean?"
"Are you going to check your chopped chicken for other bone parts?"
"How many Torta sandwiches has this place sold from this batch of chopped chicken? The bone was soft so I know that it's been marinated for awhile in the vinaigrette. What you do depends if you're on the end of the batch or the beginning. Also, how will you let the other cooks know to look for this problem when they serve this sandwich? How will you let your chopped chicken supplier know there was problem so they can be on the watch for it. At minimum, you'll want to know if this is the only incident or if there have been others. They will too. A pattern of problems is helpful in finding the cause."

Now at this point, I'm sure the chef is thinking, "Look, bub, I only work here part-time on weekends. I don't want to be here on a Saturday night, spooning out sandwich mix on focaccia bread when I could be working in a real restaurant. Let me find someone who cares. I just don't want to get into trouble."

I may not expect them to conduct a statistically valid sampling plan on the containers of chopped chicken, but I would expect them to communicate the potential problem to others so that they can be on the lookout, preventing future problems.  I hope the cafe management is not looking to blame this on somebody but would be trying to take care of their customer by getting at the root cause and putting a containment action plan in place. Whether we care about the organization or not, at least let's care about the customer who are just people like us. To that end, we need to make sure everyone in our organizations can do some basic problem-solving.

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