September 30, 2009
Customer Service: It DOES Exist
How unfortunate that good customer service these days is so rare, that when you come across it, you're surprised. But I've had a couple instances here lately that make me want to give my over crappy customer service cynicism (say that five times fast) a rest.
You might be familiar with Five Guys Burgers & Fries. It's a chain of franchised restaurants that's blanketed a fair amount of the country, serving up--you guessed it--burgers and fries. Plus other stuff you would expect to find in a burger and fry kind of place. One finally showed up not far from my home and having heard rave reviews about the burgers (and fries), my son and I stopped in for lunch one day. You order at the counter, receive an empty cup for your beverage that you fill on your own and then seat yourself and wait for your order number to be called. At the beverage station was a sign posted that read a little something like this (I'm paraphrasing because I'm going off my memory, which is poor at best, but you'll get the point):
Dear Customer. Thank you for your business. We want to be sure you know how much we appreciate you coming to eat with us today. You are the most important aspect of our success and we do not ever forget it. We are here to serve you and want you to have a great meal with great service. We do not believe that you are doing us a favor by eating here. Rather, we receive the benefit because you choose to dine here. We thank you for that. If there is anything that you need to make your visit here better, please do not hesitate to ask and we will do everything possible to make it happen. And please come again soon.
The food was outstanding and the service we received very much embodied the sentiments expressed in that sign. What a surprise in the days of restaurants and stores who more often treat customers like it's an imposition to serve them. My biggest beef is saying Thank you to a store employee and getting You're Welcome as a response. The answer should be: "No, thank you." Since, after all, if I and my fellow customer brethren weren't spending money at the locale, the employee and all his brethren would be job searching.
Another great example of the elusive customer service happened today. I was in the Anniston/Oxford area of Alabama yesterday for work purposes (because God knows I wouldn't have been there for the sheer enjoyment of the town) and was scheduled to stay overnight at the Comfort Suites, my usual hotel of choice there because they're in a great location, clean, smoke-free with great rates and complimentary breakfast. About 6:00, minor emergencies dictated I return home to Atlanta instead of staying over. I called to cancel the reservation and was told by the kind receptionist that the cancellation policy states a 4:00 cut off or you get billed regardless. She could not make an exception for me--emergency or no--but suggested I call a manager today. I did just that and learned that the manager had already heard of the situation and had called the hotel owner on my behalf to explain I was a good, regular customer and needed an exception this one time. The owner agreed and I was not charged for a stay I did not actually complete.
How refreshing to be appreciated for loyalty and monetary contribution to the business. The receptionist was nice, the manager went above and beyond, and they've earned my business for all future stays, no doubt.
If you ever have a need to stay in Oxford, Alabama (for the Talladega race, perhaps?), the Comfort Suites is your best choice of hotel when you want to stay somewhere who knows how to treat its customers. And besides that, the cookies they make most nights are to die for.