Thursday, June 24, 2010

Service Attitude

I filled out a couple of those surveys on the bottom of a receipt that you get from time to time in the world of retail. They promise you the opportunity to win gift cards or cash by answering a few simple questions. Not that I've known anybody who has actually won one of these...but I suppose that someone has to...somewhere. So I dialed for dollars.

Twenty minutes later, a gazillion questions later, and with one razor thin shred of patience remaining, the survey was completed. I no longer cared if I won or not. I just wanted the questions to stop...but I wouldn't hang up because of my strong need for closure.

Closure is highly overrated, by the way.

Chick-fil-A had one in my bag yesterday, and so I really actually wanted to have the opportunity to say something nice about the model of efficiency known as my local Chick-fil-A drive thru. I can even see the person taking my order on a sweet little screen. They asked the standard questions as to whether I felt like queen of the world at their restaurant blah blah blah. I gave them high marks on everything...because they deserve it. It was my pleasure (yeah, I ripped that off from them).

I've never been to a fast food establishment that tried harder to offer above average service. Their counter personnel may sometimes be clueless...but they are polite, by gosh. And there are enough of them to actually get my order out to me before within an amazingly quick period of time. I also like that their managers are out there working as well...instead of sitting in the back counting money or standing in everyone's way barking out orders.

I also like it that they tell me that they have received immense pleasure for serving me. I used to think that this response was a bit over the top, but now that I've gotten used to it...I associate "pleasure" with something good and wholesome instead of something we don't mention in polite company.

I'm sure that it is quite obvious that I am a Chick-fil-A addict. I have a diet lemonade at least five times a week...and I get it with light ice. I have to open my door to order at the speaker and to pick it up from the smiling person at the window who hands it to me. I suppose that my car is now in the "early redneck" category. The paint still matches, and it isn't loud...but that's all that separates it from a "true redneck-mobile."

The window control kept getting stuck, so Big Dave decided that he'd take care of that little problem by making it impossible to roll down the driver's side window. I'm sure I'm known in the Chick-fil-A employee circles as "that crazy lady who opens her door instead of rolls down her window and will wait fifteen minutes for a diet lemonade in sweltering heat because she has no life."

It is probably just shortened to "that crazy lady." Remember...I've done fast food a gazillion lifetimes ago...I know how these things work. I remember the lady who ordered a Big Mac, a large order of fries, a cherry pie and a Tab every time she came through. A TAB? Why not just drink paint thinner? Or go all out with a chocolate shake and let the calories fall where they may.

On the downside, Chick-fil-A has spoiled me for all other entities. I go through McDonald's and it is a crapshoot. I may get treated well...or not. There may be grinds in the bottom of my decaf coffee...or they may actually remember to put cream in the bag. I may wait forty forevers, or I may zip right through. It is that inconsistency that makes stopping at McDonald's the adventure that it often is.

But I love McDonald's. I can't really eat anything there, but I can dream. Plus, I own some stock in my 401-K. It has gone up dramatically over the past five years. Plus, I'm told that the Mickey D's sweet tea is hard to beat.

Service has suffered over the past few years as the profit motive took over and the consultants encouraged the stores to sell instead of serve. I is possible to do both. Asking if I want to upgrade to a combo (I always answer "no" because I can't be in the same zip code as French fries...much less have them in my car) is fine. However, Bed, Bath and Beyond is apparently hawking some product at the front counter that costs $14.99 and is supposed to kill odors. They are wearing me out asking me if I want one.

Not for $14.99, I don't. Not even with a 20% off coupon. No. Just no.

I love the fact that the pendulum between service and sales is swinging back the other way. We should have better service as stores and businesses realize that it is the cheapest thing that they can do to buy a customer's loyalty. I hope that the trend continues.

I've personally had my fill of smart mouthed, rude salesclerks who treat me like I am their equal. That may be true in day to day life...but when I am standing there with money in hand...I am elevated to the status of one who is being served. I am buying so that the entity stays open...and the salesclerk keeps his or her job. Out of respect for that relationship, I want somebody treating me like I actually matter.

I want them all to treat me like Chick-fil-A does. With an attitude of service...emphasis on "service." For too long we've had to deal with the "attitude" to get any service. I'm personally glad that the tables have turned.


  1. oh, i remember going to get big macs with you.

    i haven't had one in forever.

    and chickfila is my favorite now too.