By Jon Swanson
Nancy and I went out for supper. Because we had a free birthday burger at Red Robin, that’s where we went. Ryan, our server, was great. He was friendly at a volume which didn’t include other tables. He answered food questions thoughtfully, even providing a caution about what often happens in cooking the turkey burger. He treated us as if we hadn’t ordered just water, and as if half the bill wasn’t going to be free. It was a nice evening.
The next morning, I took the van for an oil change. Being near my birthday, I had a coupon for half-off the regular price.
I was greeted at the van door by one employee, who walked me to the waiting room, pointing out the TV, fresh coffee, and magazines and telling me how long before Mike would talk with me. As I sat working, another employee brought another customer and pointed out the TV, fresh coffee, and magazines and told her how long before Mike would talk with her.
Mike came and got me, took me to the computer in the service area, and began walking me through all the options, just like always. He read them from the screen that we both could see. At one point, when I waved my hand at the screen and said, “I know,” he whispered, “they cover everything.” We finished that part of the process and he said, “I’ll take you back to the waiting area.” Having just walked the 6 feet myself, I said, “I’m fine.” He whispered, “I have to.” Before I left, there was much more of the script, complete with smiles and “how did we do” and “does everything look fine?” Five guys in the place, all using the same script book.
I am convinced that both Mike and Ryan are nice guys. I am convinced that both Mike and Ryan work for companies that want to get customers to come back. I am convinced that both companies have created training that research somewhere has suggested.
What I saw, however, is that one script allows the person’s personality to emerge and be part of the service. The other script only allows the personality to emerge as a critique of the service.
This oil change place hasn’t always been this way. They used to be friendly. Now they are programmed.
I like the old way.
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Jon has been a regular reader and occasional contributor around here since 2006. Jon works as a pastor, but he understands business better than many so-called business people. He gets that it is about people, relationships, service, and yes, even love.