365 Grateful: Tea and Customer Service

365 - 05-31-2017Parched, I drive through McDonald’s on the way home from work to pick up one of their $1 iced teas. The line is longer than usual, but their tea is good, so I’m OK with that.

I place my order and then settle in for a bit to wait my turn at the window. Finally, as dehydration threatens, I pull up to the window where a hand tantalizingly holds out my Mickey’s tea. It’s a little like a carrot on a string.

Here’s how this goes:

“One-iced-tea-unsweetened-with-five-Splendas-here-you-are-come-back-and-visit-us-again.” And poof! She was gone, back inside before I could even pull the cup through my window. I actually snorted and started laughing, but, of course, she had disappeared back into the depths of the drive-through, no longer paying attention. Not that she ever really had been, of course.

Come back and visit again? Well, sure, because, wow, your customer-focused service was just … just … so awesome. Made me feel welcome, appreciated as a customer, and, oh my goodness, certainly NOT just the next car in line. It brought to mind those old Westerns. You know, with the song that went something like this:

“Get ’em up, move ’em out, rawhide!”  And all the cattle are being herded and moved along?

So, just because I can envision a kinder world, here’s how I would have liked the encounter to go:

Drive-Through Worker: “Good evening. One iced tea, unsweetened, with five Splenda?”

Me: “Why, yes, thank you.”

DTW: “Great. Here you are. Come back and visit us again.”

Me: “Well, sure, because your customer-focused service is awesome!”

DTW: Visibly pleased because it is, after all, a service industry where the goal is to make customers happy and provide, well, you know, courteous and good service. Not faster-than-a-speeding-bullet service at the expense of real connection.

OK, so I know. The pay scale is low. Speed is important in the drive-through business where you have to meet service level objectives in terms of time (unless you’re Hardee’s, where speed is NOT a top priority). And, yes, it was a busy time of day.

But you know what else I know? Customer service is made up of so much more than how many seconds it takes to deliver an order, or how well you have a canned speech memorized, or how wonderfully efficient you are. The heart of good customer service thrives when you foster connection, person to person. And I’m actually grateful for this less-than-stellar experience tonight, because it drives home a truth to me: people matter and making a real connection is probably the most kind thing you can do for others.

And I also know this: had I waited another five minutes for my $1 iced tea, yet been greeted pleasantly and authentically by someone who believed people matter and who obviously cared about me as a fellow human, not just a hand grabbing for an iced tea, I’d have been more than OK with that, too.

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