Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To Pam at Whataburger

Today I dashed to Whataburger over my lunch hour. They have the best burgers. Not the point of this post, though, which is to recognize the often-unrecognized. I went through the Drive-Through and when I got to the window to pick up my burger, I was treated like royalty. Not just a customer, but a valued partner. Pam, the cashier, was prompt, extremely personable and, to me, exemplified what being in a service industry should be. And when Pam was putting my burger in the bag and stepped away from the window, her manager, whose name I didn’t get but who had awesome hair, looked at me from inside the restaurant, smiled, waved and said “Thanks for stopping by today! Are you having a good day?” And I think she meant it. I think they both did. And I was, and am, extremely impressed by their policies. I don’t know if its Whataburger in general that emphasizes taking care of the customer or if it is simply the employee (I think in this instance it might be both), but it got me thinking.

In an industry devoted to service, as the food industry is, is it remarkable to see someone doing a remarkable job? Or am I too preoccupied to notice good service? I think the answer is neither. I can tell you about the Delta airlines flight I took from Nebraska to Memphis back home to Florida after Aaron’s grandpa’s funeral and how extremely professional and upbeat the flight attendants on both flights were despite the delays and in spite of particularly nasty passengers on the plane. I remember being at the same Whataburger months ago and having exceptional service from the guy who brought our food to the table. Just Monday, at Publix, I encountered three or four of the most professional men I’ve met because as I was checking out with my groceries, the computer system froze. They were extremely accommodating and did their best to assist me and the other customers as quickly as they could and were a formidable (kind) opponent to the bitchy lady who thought they were out to get her because she had already loaded her groceries on the belt. Seriously, I felt bad for the woman because these men were so good to her and yet she remained the most miserable person I can imagine! Is it a sign of good customer service when you stop feeling sorry for the persons who are being berated for something they didn't do and start feeling sorry for the awful lady doing it? I don't know. But I do know how I can choose to recognize these people. I can think, off the top of my head, of so many instances when people do a great job at their jobs serving others, but I can count on my right hand the number of times I have filled out the comment card or called the toll-free number to tell somebody about how well their organization served me.

So today, after I enjoyed my burger, I called that number. I talked to a lady at Whataburger corporate about the two great representatives of her company, and I sincerely hope that those women are recognized for it. I want to get in the habit of doing this and promoting the positive that people are doing, whether or not it's in their job descriptions. "A joyful heart promoteth healing." Thanks, Pam!


Elizabeth said...

I'm very aware of both bad and good service because I tend to be really social and chatty with cashiers and servers, and it's obvious when they don't dig my friendliness. Good service really should be more appreciated.

I remember going to Starbucks a few weeks ago, and the cashier who took my order was so upbeat and friendly. She asked whether I wanted a pastry and when I said no, she said, "Well, you look great, so you'd be fine if you ate one!" And then when she called out my order to the barista, she said, "Liz will be having a tall caramel latte," and her using my name was very nice. I was smiling all day.

Amber said...

I had an instructor in nursing school that was very big on giving people public praise. The positive reward not only affects the person receiving the compliment but the person giving it also.

This has always stuck with me and I have on more than one occasion either left comments or called management to pass on the compliment. I like to think that what happens when you do this is something like that movie "Pay it Forward."

Great job, Emily! That's great! Keep it up!

(There's my public praise for you.)

Emily said...

Thank you, Amber! It means a lot!

thefuzzyrobot said...

Thanks for this post Emily. Now that I work in the service industry, I realize more and more how much grief and negativity those who serve us really get. When I first started working at the Barnes & Noble cafe, I found it my personal challenge to make everyone who came in for coffee feel good and important. Sadly, as time and crabby customers have begun to wear on me, I feel that enthusiasm to help and really serve people diminish. It's really hard to be upbeat and happy to see the next customer when the previous one complains the entire time while making their drink. But, you are right, good service is hard to come by and I need to make it my challenge to be the next pleasant barista they come in contact with.

One last observation though - it's often the "church" crowd that comes in after services on Sunday that can be the worst. I just want to point out to them - if you order something from me with your Bible in hand, your attitude toward me should reflect that. Food for thought.

Emily said...

Jenny, I totally agree. When I worked at Target I hated working on Sunday afternoons when people in their church clothes would come in and tear through displays, throw clothes on the ground, be impatient with the cashiers, etc. What kind of example is that? I'm sorry for your bad customers, because I know EXACTLY how they can break your spirit. I hope we can all be that next customer who brings a smile to your face for a job well done! And one question- do you think it's appropriate for other customers in line to say something to the person who behaves poorly? Open question to anyone reading this.