Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to bring you this important message from the Wendy’s parking lot. Yes, we were right in the middle of a very dignified series of blogs about the ancient art of persuasion, made science by the revered and respected Greek philosopher, Aristotle. But yesterday, common life interrupted that thread of thought, and I find myself once again blogging about a fast food restaurant—and, as often, my dog.
Disclaimer: I really don’t frequent fast food establishments often. Perhaps once a month, really. You just read about it because so many bloggable things happen every time I go. A fast food restaurant, with its rapid response to supply and demand, focus on customer service, and plethora of young, naive, just-figuring-it-out employees is a living textbook of illustrations of do’s and don’ts in the customer service industry. Last night was no exception.
It had been a difficult day for one of my friends, so we decided on a walk and talk to sort things through. We harnessed up my 80-pound, hairy Fido and took off. It was about 8:00 at night, but there was much to talk about, and at 10, we found ourselves out of the neighborhood, over a few miles, and right downtown in heavy traffic. The dog, who is accustomed to one 5 mile walk every morning, but certainly not two a day, was showing signs of fatigue. He’s big, and cheerful, and he loves hamburgers, plain. So, we walked him right through the drive-thru window and ordered him a single and a cup of water. It was late, and there was not much going on in the parking lot, and Wendy’s has walls of glass, and all of the customers inside—perhaps a dozen of them–watched bemused as we ripped the burger into little chunks and fed the dog. Afterwards, he slurped down his water, not even spilling. The audience was charmed.
Until the telltale heaving began. Before we knew it, the beast’s snack had all come up, violently, and prominently displayed itself all over the parking lot. In. Full. View. Of. The. Dining. Audience. I had just looked at my friend for confirmation of what we should do next — “RUN!” he yelled– when we were stopped by a bespeckled teenaged employee. “Poor doggie,” he said, patting the beast on the head. “Y’all go on and get him home so he feels better. I’ll take care of this for you.” And he began to pour his bucket of mop water all over the affected area. In seconds, the mess was clean, the audience was relieved, and my embarrassment subsided. As I thanked him, he grinned and told me he’d never expected such on his first day on the job.
THAT, my friends, is customer service. The action of that new inexperienced crew member is an example of how we all should respond to even the most difficult pleasantries of our customer relations. I’m guessing there is no page in the training manual of what to do about a dog in the drive-thru, but that worker, with his bucket, did three important things: 1. Found a solution with quick-thinking, 2. Jumped to do an unpleasant task because it needed to be done, and 3. Spared two customers much embarrassment and others a distasteful experience with the company. We should all be as eager and willing. In response, by the way, the other diners smiled and applauded him—so he truly turned an unfortunate circumstance into a positive one. And we all got a lesson in customer service from a bucket.
Challenge: How quick-witted and willing is my team when it comes to awkward customer situations? How can we improve upon making our customers feel comfortable?