Customer service – we experience it daily. Some great, some just okay, and some just down right horrible. While theory is important and during PCC workshops we explore the Do’s and Don’ts of exceptional customer service, there is no substitute for actual stories. So on occasion, I will pass along examples of both good and bad customer service. Today, I want to pass along two different lessons.
Lesson of the Lime
This isn’t my story but one I came across in i2i Leadership. Randy Gravitt, the blog’s author, recounts a dinner he enjoyed at a restaurant in Rome, Georgia, when his friend ordered a Diet Coke with a lime – not a huge request.
A few minutes later, the server returned with his friend’s Diet Coke sans lime -- the café had run out. Bummer but no big deal. Well, to the food server, it was a big deal!
This waitress wanted her customer to enjoy the best possible experience and realized he couldn’t if he was missing his lime. So what did she do? “I decided to go next door and buy a few [limes] so you could have some with your Diet Coke.”
What incredible customer service! As Randy points out, “A waitress made a 33 cent decision and I will be talking about it for the next decade.” It doesn’t require much to offer customers an outstanding experience.
Lesson of the Line
Do you like standing in line? Probably not. I certainly don’t. Over the last few months, I’ve experienced polar opposites of how two companies address waiting customers. Of course, these stories are about individuals who offer customer service; but I believe these stories are a reflection of how the company views the “customer in line” experience.
My wife and I were recently on a trip to California and required a rental car (I don’t want to call out this rental company so let’s just say I spent a lot of “dollars” for the car!). We landed in Ontario and along with my fellow travelers, walked up to the rental counter. There were two agents, each helping a customer, and an empty line. As it frequently happens, we all arrived at the same time so I’m about six people away from getting my car.
When one of the agents finished with his customer, he looked up at the line, stood up from his chair, and walked to the back room, never to be seen again. Was it time for his break or lunch? Maybe. Was his shift over? Possibly. But with six customers waiting in line, couldn’t he have postponed his counter departure? How about calling someone else from the back to take his place? Or at least a simple, “Thank you for your patience. We’ll help you just as soon as possible.” Instead, we received nothing but frustrating silence and more waiting.
This is in stark contrast to a recent line experience at QuickTrip. Unlike renting a car, most QT transactions are pretty simple and therefore pretty fast. So even if there are three or four people in line, the wait at the register isn’t bad. But QT wants customers to have a great experience and understands the customer wants to get in the store and get out – quickly.
As I stood there, Big Q drink in hand, waiting to pay, a QT employee comes through the front door. As soon as he saw the five customers waiting in line, he ran to the end of the counter, jumped behind a register, and said (with a smile), “May I help the next customer.” He ran!
QT is one of my favorite businesses. They understand customers have choices so QT goes out of its way to earn business by delivering an enjoyable customer experience. Even if it’s just about buying a soft drink and a donut. As I walk through their doors, I’m most often greeted with a “Welcome to QuickTrip”. As I leave, I hear, “Thanks and have a great day. We’ll see you next time.” And the wait is never long. It’s not just one store – it’s all of them! QT truly understands the idea of exceptional customer service.
The Lesson of the Lime and the Lesson of the Line – stories of how to treat customers and how not to treat them. What stories do you have?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.