When you hear the phrase ‘customer service’, honestly, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For me it is an image of that dreaded counter at the front of retail stores where people go for complaints and returns/refunds, usually overflowing with unwanted items both broken and unwrapped. Yes, that is the customer service counter, but the actual two words: customer service, is what the folks behind the counter are suppose to be doing. Customer service, serving the customer, in what I would think would be a polite and professional manner. This isn’t something you see all too much.
I believe our society has lowered the standards of professionalism and politeness when it comes to relating with other people. Today, I went through the Drive Thru at an Arby’s by my house around 1pm, just after lunch time. I ordered a Bacon and Turkey sandwich that would most likely not be pre-made. After driving up to the window and paying with a credit card, I sat there staring out the windshield for a minute. At about the time I was starting to notice the wait time, the kid in the window pops out again and asks me, “Sir, would you like a water while you wait for your food?”
I was floored.
After accepting the offer, I sat there dumbfounded at the thoughtful act. I barely had time to take a sip after that before my food came out, but that was besides the point. While driving away, slurping happily on my not just free (as it usually is) but freely offered water, I thought to myself how unusual that experience really was. While the kid could have hid behind his window until my food was ready, he practiced amazing customer service and offered me something to make my experience more pleasant. Whether the thought was his own or from a manager standing by, I will never know, but what I do know now is that I have an appreciation for that Arby’s location.
Typically when pulling through a drive thru there is very little personal interaction with the face behind the window. Exchange of money and of items, then you are on your way. Forgetting the face as soon as your tires pull out of the parking lot.
Typically when going through the check out of a retail store the cashier might ask you: “were you able to find everything?” Where, whether you found everything or not, the typical (programmed) response is “Yes”. The cashier would then tell you: “Have a good night” when leaving, but beyond that, rare is it that there is personal interaction.
After these experiences you leave the store or the restaurant not happy, not upset, but impartial. Minutes after you have left these locations, I would be willing to bet money that you do not remember the faces of those employees you ‘interacted’ with.
What if things were different? What if the level of customer service at all these places was increased? It wouldn’t take much effort by the employee. At the drive thru, what if the face behind the window took notice of your wait and offered you a cup of water? What if the cashier who is already going through all of your purchases (which if you really think about it, is a very personal experience) made note of the chili sauce that you are purchasing and made a comment about absolutely loving chili with a certain spice? These small moments would culminate to people leaving those stores and restaurants not thinking about their next destination, or that they are running late, or that they should really be eating healthier than drive thru, but of the remark that the employee made.
My experience at Arby’s was so unTypical that I spent the entire car ride back to work thinking about that simple act of customer service.
I personally like to pick out something about the area or person when I am either waiting in line or talking to a person that I am paying for food or a service, just to make short small talk. I know from my time working at an amusement park that this is probably very annoying to the individual who I am attempting to make small talk with, as I am sure countless others have tried the same small talk by pointing out the same thing. But flip the roles around and have that individual make small talk with me. They could point out the exact same thing to talk about with each of their customers, and since all their customers aren’t the same, we as customers would never know! They don’t have to get annoyed by the small talk, but in turn switch the roles and have the small talk work for them.
Whoever knew that one trip to Arby’s could bring about so many thoughts and words?!? I do plan on going to the Arby’s website and mentioning the profoundness of my experience today.
In other news, my Skittles bag just told me: “Congratulations, you’ve won a prepaid debit card worth $50!” What a good day :-)