• Dave Fuller MBA, Author

Customer service takes the right people

Updated: May 7, 2018

I am going to be honest, I don't usually eat at fast food restaurants. However last week I was in the Phoenix airport terminal and I was famished.


Instead of lunch, I had escaped from the conference I had presented at and hiked Camelback Mountain.

Now a few hours later, I was waiting for my flight back home. I had eaten a small meal at a neighboring restaurant with mediocre service, and now wanted a baked potato to top things off and I spotted the fast food restaurant signboard. I got to the counter and ordered.



The baked potato was $2.99. My bill came to $3.25.


The first thing that tipped me off that something was different was that the order clerk told me that she had a quarter and would be willing to pay for my tax. I declined because I had the cash but was amazed that what I assumed was a low-paid cashier was so generous to a complete stranger. But what happened next blew me away.


As I lined up waiting for my baked potato I noticed that everyone picking up their food and walking past me had a big smile on their face. When it was my turn the girl serving the food presented me with my bag and said, "Here you go sweetheart, have a great day!"


I looked at her and to my amazement, it really seemed that this young lady, let's call her Sue, wanted me to have a great day.


I moved slowly away and I heard Sue give the next customer her bag of food and say, "Here you go beautiful."


Because I train in customer service, I sat close to watch. Each and every customer Sue served was given their food and a personal compliment. Most, if not all, left with their order and a smile on their face.


The customer service I experienced that afternoon was exemplary. I am not sure if this level of service is a result of the company's training or if Sue and her co-worker just loved their jobs. However in a world of mediocrity in customer service, they shone.


So what is it about Sue and that particular restaurant that other businesses could learn from?


1. Care about people. Both Sue and her co-worker made me feel like they cared. They took their time, they listened, they smiled and as a result I felt like I was special. It wasn't just me, customers were walking away with more than just food, they were happy.


2. Be generous. It might have only been a quarter, it might have been a smile, it might have been a compliment. However the sales clerk's offer to help me out felt generous.


How often are we who work in the service industry so tight with our time, our words, our resources? The "givers gain principle" is that when someone does something for us we want to give back. How much better would our service be if we gave more of ourselves?


3. Make it fun! Sue was having fun doing a simple job of serving people. My gut feeling is that this young lady has a great attitude that is going to ensure her success and the success of any organization that hires her. Every organization should be looking out for the Sues who create an environment which their customers want to re-experience.


Customers who walk away with a smile on their face are going to be back.


4. Hire great people and put them in the right spot. Someone within this restaurant must be great at picking the right people to do the right job.


Frontline workers need to love people. However most organizations just hire a warm body to be the face of their business. There are people who love people and there are other people who love tasks. People who love tasks should be doing tasks away from the people and the staff who love people should not be doing tasks that keep them away from people.


Yet as owners and managers we often fail to recognize people's gifts.


If the organization has this all figured out and this franchise in the Phoenix airport is not just an exception, my gut feeling is that the company's stock price should be on the rise. Great service creates a valuable company and draws customers back. How great is your customer service?

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