April 1, 2014

Great customer service is a magnet that pulls you back again and again

     Glancing at my watch, I thought: “This could be one of those pack-of-crackers-for-lunch days.”  And then on a second impulse, I flipped on my blinker and pulled into Chick-fil-A.  The idea of a chicken salad sandwich and a cup of lemonade trumped a six-pack of peanut butter crackers.  When I pulled in, cars were stacked in both lanes.
     I started to switch to the outside lane so I could leave and go back to the Lance plan, but, oops, I
was trapped.  Two cars on the right blocked my exit.  And there I sat—and sat.  Twice, I looked at my watch, wondering: “What’s going on here?”  After fidgeting for a few minutes, I reached over for a file and started reading.
     Great customer service will spoil you, and it will also pull you back again and again, as a loyal customer.  That’s why I enjoy patronizing Chick-fil-A, especially the restaurant in Beechwood Shopping Center in Athens.  I’ve never experienced sloppy service at any of Truett Cathy’s enterprises, but the Beechwood unit is the gold standard.
     That’s why I was startled to be stuck in a going-nowhere, waiting-to-order line.  And just a few cars ahead were two smiling order-takers, who were relaying requests to the kitchen.  I like that efficiency model.  It’s a friendly idea that soothes antsy customers like me.  But this time, the ants really started crawling in my pants.  Looking at my watch—as if it would speed up the process—I started to fret.  “This isn’t my Chick-fil-A,” I fumed.
     And that’s when a perky young lady appeared at my window.  She didn’t deserve my what-is-going-on-here grumbling, so I smiled and said, “A chicken salad sandwich and a diet lemonade, please.”  She said, “My pleasure.”   To my pleasure, she didn’t say, “No problem.”

     Suddenly, the traffic jam—like the Red Sea—parted, and I rolled up to the window.  With money in hand, I was ready to exchange the cash for my lunch.  So when I extended the $10 to the associate, he smiled and shook his head.  I tried to pay, again.  That’s when he waved his hand as to say “no.”  Smiling, he said, “My pleasure, have a nice day.”
     Presto, my earlier frustration evaporated.  Driving away, I said aloud, “Yes!  That’s my Chick-fil-A!”  I repeat: “Great customer service will spoil you, and it will also pull you back again and again, as a loyal customer.”  
     Fast-forward 10 days.  Appointments were backed up like jets trying to land at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  I needed to escape for a few minutes, and a chicken salad sandwich sounded good—again.  I had just enough time to zip through Beechwood’s Chick-fil-A.
     Both lanes were filled, but the traffic was moving steadily.  The outside order-takers were radioing messages to inside, and I was thinking: “This is a great system.  These folks know how to get it done.”  But as I reached the merging point of the two lanes, someone was in a bigger hurry than I was. The driver on the outside gunned his engine and jumped ahead of me in line.
     “That’s rude,” I mumbled.
     And when I pulled up to the window and offered my money to the attendant, he did that hand thing again, as to say, “No, no.”  Handing me my lunch, he said, “I’m sorry about that.”
     Again, I tried to pay him.  And he replied, “My pleasure.”
     I repeat: “Great customer service will spoil you, and it will also pull you back again and again.”