AN APPLE PIE A DAY…Doesn’t hurt the Customer Experience

You probably recall that the original motivation for this blog on Customer Service was the fact that I felt (and most I work with in corporate presentations and training sessionsalso report feeling) that a lot of suppliers no longer give us OUR KETCHUP, which may have started as literally Ketchup as in the fast food world but is now referring to our EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

I have some very good news – a supplier this past week almost literally gave me MY KETCHUP and I was almost excited (I know that sounds a little sad, but it happens so rarely these days that every time it does happen, it gives me hope), if not at least surprised.

The very quick version is as follows:I pull into the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant I haven’t eaten at in years. Both to see what my new experience will be like and also because it was simply the easiest place to stop during a busy day.

I order a Chicken Burger. No other customers are in the drive-thru (no one in front or behind me) and so I’m thinking to myself, “this should be quick”

Wrong. The lady takes my money (and my order) and I wait, and wait, as I watch them serve people inside the restaurant.

Now, we have become no doubt an instant gratification society as a whole, and so I’m thinking I should have my order in 3 minutes (hey, it is “fast food” right) but I know it could take at least 5 since it is a Chicken Burger and it is lunch-hour (depsite nobody else in the drive-thru).

It takes about 7 minutes, and truth be told, even though I’m in a rush, I’m not so impatient that I see this as unreasonable, it’s just that I’m having one of those super-busy days (not anyone else’s fault, mind you) and so every minute seems like an hour.

In any case, the lady didn’t come to the window to say sorry for the wait in-between either, and that probably made it seem longer as well.

Finally, she arrives at the window with my order.

Now, we’re still talking less than 10 minutes here so I’m not planning to complain or anything as they didn’t really do anything wrong, but I am second guessing my decision to try this place out again…..but then it happened.

As the window opens the employee says “I’m so sorry for your wait, I know you probably have somewhere you need to be and that is why you came through the drive-thru in the first place. In return for your incovenience I placed a complimentary Apple Pie in the bag”

Touch down, home run, and so on.

Those few words (not the extra food) made everything go away and changed my momentary perception of the experience.

Yes, she could have come to the window beforehand and updated me about the wait, but no matter, how she handled that way she got to the window flipped the experience on its head – negative to positive in 60 seconds flat.

The extra was a bonus of course, but remember I said in my last blog that Actor Jim Sturgess had it right when playing Jude in the Movie Across the Universe and saying it’s not what you do or who you are but how you do it that most defines you.

The what (extra “food”) certainly helped, but how she spoke and handled that situation was the most important component of having me drive off with a smile on my face (probably need to get out more)

So, can we see at least a few things this employee did to enhance my experience at their restaurant based on things we discussed in past blogs?

1) She MADE IT ABOUT ME, the Customer, by mentioning the importance of my time.
2) She DELIVERED THE UNEXPECTED by placing the value on my time and giving me an extra add-on to show she placed a worth on it (my time).
3) She was IN THE MOMENT WITH ME by demonstrating her empathy for me, focusing her attention on me with sincere empathy and showing that this moment was MINE (as part of the experience) and not focused on her co-workers (i.e. chatting with her co-workers, not making eye-contact, etc.)

These are three of the steps I discuss in my Creating A+ Customer Experiences Seminar / Keynote and so obviously I was impressed by this brief customer experience.

On top of that, whoever the manager is must have done a great job in empowering their staff to make this type of decision (offering me a complimentary product without having to check in with management) because she didn’t leave the back area to talk within anyone from the time she took my order.

She either empowers herself to make those decisions or their manager encourages them to (as long as the decision makes sense for the customer and the situation that is) – either way, it left me as a customer impressed and more than ready to spend my money there in the future.

This is all were really asking for in most cases – leave me better off after interacting with your business than when I walked through the door (or in this case, pulled up to the drive-thru) in the first place.

Until next time, onward and upward.
Corey “Gimmie My Ketchup” Poirier


One comment

  1. gimmemyketchup · January 7, 2011

    Thanks for the kind feedback Marisa, and yes, in the coming months I’ll either do a follow-up or a post of a similar nature. cpoirier

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