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How To Make Your Customers Feel At Home
Have You Had A Bad Customer Service Experience Lately?
Recently, I had the pleasure of eating at a Chick-fil-A in Lewisville, Texas. I've eaten at this restaurant before, and generally, I like Chick-fil-A. They have decent food at exorbitant prices, and you leave feeling satisfied, with a full belly.
The restaurant was empty the other night when my son and I visited in between stops for baseball lessons. We ate in the dining area, as we had time to kill. When a fast food place is slow, it tends to be quiet. Your average Chick-fil-A is very quiet. They don't blare music, there are no televisions going, and usually, the associates behind the counter are working at something, and respectful of the customers. The chain promotes a family friendly atmosphere, and the lack of distractions encourages conversation at the fast food dinner table.
Last night was different. The clerks behind the counter were engaged in conversation while they did busy work. Conversation that was far from appropriate in the workplace, never mind that it was in the middle of a restaurant that caters to families with children. One associate in particular, a young 20's female, was regaling her male cohorts with stories of her menstrual cycle, her sexual activity with her boyfriend, her fertility and risk of pregnancy, and how, despite appearing tom-boyish, loves to have her nails done and go to the spa, noting that she was really a girlie-girl. In twenty minutes, I discovered more about this young lady than I did my wife on our first date. I discovered that she did not start her period until she was sixteen and that she wears a B-cup bra. I learned she thought she was pregnant once because her breasts seemed "to get really big and firm". I found out she feared getting pregnant and suspects she can get pregnant easily because "all the girls in [her] family are very fertile". I discovered she and her current boyfriend dated for six months before they had sex and that she is shy in the bedroom.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I could not hear the other side of the conversation. The male associate she was speaking with was out of view and his voice was muffled. I would like to know what some of his questions were that provoked answers such as "just in bed" and "I don't know, I guess I don't really like it when guys do that." I don't mean to portray this young lady as a trashy airhead. Judging a book by its cover, I would say that she is a college student or recent graduate, intelligent, reserved, respectful. In fact, having seen her at work there before, I had categorized her as a mousy geek. Clearly I was wrong.
I thought about approach the counter and saying "could you stop talking about your cycle? I'm trying to eat." I couldn't do it though. Instead, I watched and listened, like taking in a traffic accident on the highway. You can not help yourself but to look. Also, the person whom I assumed was a manager (because she was wearing a different color shirt) was within ear shot of the conversation and clearly was not doing anything to discourage it from happening. At one point I got up and walked past the counter on the way to the men's room. The conversation had shifted to talk of religion and it's influence on early 20's youth and their sex lives by this time, and was taking place between the young lady (still behind the counter) and a different male associate who was seated in the dining area, fiddling with ketchup packets. I passed directly between the two on my way to and from the restroom. At no time did my presence deter them debating the merits of abstinence during high school and hedonism in college.
It Is What It Is
I can not say that I am appalled by the display put on by the employees at this Chick-fil-A last night. there's a certain "Is What It Is" factor that we have all come to accept in today's society. In a way perhaps I am immune to this type of conversation, immune in a way that it no longer upsets me, but the fact that it took place disappoints me. Talk about whatever you want, just not when I am in your place of business, buying your product, paying for your services. I do not need to hear about your boobs, your drinking binges, your roommate's arm pits, your favorite underwear, your crush on Bobby, your dislike for piercings, or the batteries in your favorite toy. I do not know you nor do I want to, and I certainly do not want to be part of your conversation, so save it for after hours when you can have it outside your workplace.
I am disappointed. Providing outstanding customer service is more than being on time and saying thank you. It is more than making a good product and keeping the price down. When you have customers in your shop, you must must must be respectful at all times and never ever do or say anything that may be inappropriate around them. (Of course it helps if you are respectful to your coworkers.) Take the time to learn what is appropriate for the workplace. This will help you make better decisions when it comes to providing outstanding customer service. We'll be eating there again next week, out of convenience. I can't wait to hear what the conversation will be about then!