It Takes So Little…

My kids and I went to Chipotle last night for dinner. What I experienced was unusual in fast food; sadly, it’s unusual for most places that provide service. I received personable, knowledgeable, and quick service.

In concept, great service isn’t hard.

Be personable. I’m not a number, and I’m not an inconvenience. While I might be standing between you and your break, I am a person with money. That makes me a potential customer. Treat me as such. Flash me a little smile. Go ahead. I won’t do anything creepy back to you. Pretend I’m someone you don’t dislike. Act as if a mutual friend just introduced us. Try to remember that I’m very much like you, and I am your customer.

Be knowledgeable. If I ask a question, can you answer it? Or will you find me an answer? You don’t instill me with confidence when I am looking to you as a subject-matter expert on your product…and I see you going to your website. If you read the website information very carefully, you will know exactly what I know. Which is not enough. Whatever product you sell, learn enough in training so you are at least a couple of paces ahead of me, your customer.

Be quick. Quick is relative. If I’m looking for a surgeon to conduct a kidney transplant, I won’t award bonus points to the one who has performed a transplant in under 2 minutes. But for transactional service like check-out at the grocery store or ordering fast food, I expect a certain level of chop-chop. Note: I am patient when you are busy. But don’t let me see you cutting up with your buddies or moving so slowly you appear to be going backwards. That’s disrespectful to me, your customer.

Chipotle in downtown Naperville, IL. Personable. Every person behind the counter established eye contact, talked to me, and also my children, like they were happy to see us, smiled. Knowledgeable. The employees made recommendations about what we might like, and they shared some of their favorite menu items with us. The women behind the counter suggested I might try the hottest salsa if I like to suffer a little–and I do. Quick. Even though the place was packed, the service was speedy.

The difference is...?

Okay, making a burrito bowl isn’t exactly smashing atoms, right? It must be nice to have customers with such low expectations, right?

What is your business? Who is your competition? Are your customer-facing employees more personable, knowledgeable, and quick than your competition?

Just asking.

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