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David FullerI don’t usually eat at Wendy’s, but last week I was in the Phoenix airport and I was famished. Instead of lunch, I’d escaped from the conference I’d presented at and hiked Camelback Mountain.

A few hours later, I was waiting for my flight home. I’d eaten a small meal at a neighbouring restaurant with mediocre service. Now I wanted the baked potato I spotted on the Wendy’s signboard to top things off. 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 the words “Here you go sweetheart, have a great day!”

I looked at her and, to my amazement, it really seemed that this young lady with the name tag Chey wanted me to have a great day.  I moved slowly away and I heard Chey give the next customer her bag of food and say, “Here you go beautiful.”

Because I offer customer service training, I sat close to watch. Every customer Chey served was given their food and a personal compliment. Most, if not all, left with a smile on their face.

The customer service I experienced that afternoon was exemplary. I’m not sure if this level of service is a result of Wendy’s training or if Chey and her co-worker just loved their jobs. But in a world of mediocrity in customer service, they shone.

So what is it about Chey and that Wendy’s restaurant that other businesses could learn from?

  • Care about people: Chey and her co-worker made me feel like they cared. They took their time, listened, smiled and, as a result, I felt like I was special. It wasn’t just me – customers walked away with more than just food, they were happy.
  • 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 felt generous. Too often, we who work in the service industry are tight with our time, our words and our resources. But 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?
  • Make it fun: Chey was having fun serving people. My gut feeling is that this young lady’s great attitude is going to ensure her success and the success of any organization that hires her. Every organization should be looking for the Cheys because they create an environment that their customers want to re-experience. Customers who walk away with a smile will come back!
  • Hire great people and put them in the right spots: Someone responsible for this Wendy’s location must be great at picking the right people to do the right jobs. 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 Wendy’s organization has this all figured out and this franchise in the Phoenix airport is not just an exception, my gut feeling is that Wendy’s stock price should be on the rise.

Great service creates a valuable company and draws customers back. How great is your customer service?

Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.

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