Friday, October 12, 2007

Fast Food Hospitality?

For any company to be truly successful, they need to understand customer service. Usually, the level of customer service you get depends on who you're talking to... and whether they've had a bad day or not. How Red Robin responded to some issues we had (as mentioned in my September post) is an example of good customer service. I am certain no explanation is required for bad customer service.

But customer service and hospitality are not one in the same. In my experiences, while fast food companies typically have excellent policies and training on customer service, they don't usually demonstrate much in the way of hospitality. Today, I learned a valuable lesson about that.

My grandmother is 92 and loves when the kids stop by to play. I called last night and asked if she would mind some company for lunch today and naturally, she welcomed the idea. Since we invited ourselves over for lunch, I decided it would be best if we picked up something on the way. No reason for her to cook for all of us! I know that one of her favorite foods is coleslaw and also that she loves gravy. The only fast food restaurant I could think of that carried both is KFC. Chicken and the fixings it is so KFC is where we stopped.

I checked my stash of coupons and sure enough there was a sheet for KFC. The 8 piece meal came with one large coleslaw and one large mashed potato. That would be more than enough food for us, but not exactly designed to meet the palate of my 3 and 4 year old kids. So I asked "Would it be possible to get two small sides in place of one of the larges?" One of the employees behind the counter confirmed "That's not a problem, you want two small sides instead of two large?" I figured it would make more sense if I painted a picture so I explained "We're bringing lunch to my 92 year old grandma. She loves coleslaw and mashed potatoes and gravy, but there isn't a chance in he*& that these two are going to eat it. I was just hoping to get a small mashed potato and a small…" I totally went brain-dead trying to figure out what their fry-things are called, so as I stumbled the guy said “Mac and cheese? Potato Wedges?” Bingo! “Yeah, either of those the kids would eat.” The guy said he would take care of it and instructed the girl to ring me up.

As I was gathering my bag of goodies, I quickly peeked in and asked “So what did we end up getting?” He smiled and said “Large coleslaw, small mashed potatoes and gravy, small mac and cheese and wedges.” Completely more than I asked for and undoubtedly more than I expected. Now THAT’S a fine example of hospitality. I didn’t know fast food companies had it but I guess I was mistaken. Sometimes it’s great to be wrong. Thanks KFC.