The kid that saved a customer’s business


The quick-service restaurant could be a little slow at times, so I called in my large order and was told it would be ready at 5:45. I walked in the door at 5:46, only to discover that not only was my order not ready; nobody had even begun to prepare my food. The manager mumbled a halfhearted apology, snapped at the crew to get to work, then disappeared from sight.

A smiling teenager behind the counter said, “Sir, if you’d like to have a seat, I’ll bring your order to you when it’s ready.” I thanked her and declined, primarily because I wanted to watch the kitchen crew prepare my food. I’m funny that way, especially after the cooks have just been scolded and are shooting angry glances my way.

Another ten minutes passed before my order was ready. As one of the employees rang it up, that smiling teenager reappeared and handed me two coupons for free meals. “You shouldn’t have had to wait for your order, so next time, it’s on us,” she said.

Stop and think about that. The manager was barely able to accept responsibility for his team’s misstep, but one of the youngest (and probably lowest-paid) employees recognized that her employer’s service fell short and took it upon herself to remedy it. I don’t know anything about her, but I’ll wager that she’ll be running a successfully department or company in a few years. At the very least, she and the manager should swap jobs.

The restaurant owner hired well, but that wasn’t all. He or she clearly gave employees the authority and the flexibility to take care of situations without needing to beg approval from their “superiors.” That’s where extraordinary customer service begins.


Image ©Johanna Goodyear/Dreamstime