I spent several years working for a corporation in customer service related roles, so I am probably more sensitive to and critical of poor customer skills. I was reminded of this again earlier today. I had been analyzing my IRA and had decided that my financial institution wasn’t doing me any favors. So, reviewing several other organizations on the web, I selected one that offered higher rates. They were not going to make me rich, but they were definitely better then what I have. I drove over there and asked to speak with someone about transferring my IRA to their bank. I was asked to take a seat and someone would be right with me.
I sat down and started observing my surroundings. Both sides of the lobby were lined with offices, most of which were occupied. Of course, the corner offices at the front of the building were the biggest and most nicely furnished, but even the smaller ones within my line of sight were pretty nice, with artwork on the walls and certificates of the occupants various accomplishments framed and prominently displayed on the walls.
Shortly, a lady emerged from the last office in the back. The one next to the rear exit. “Hi, can I help you” she called from across the lobby’. Instead of approaching me she stopped halfway and waved me toward her, and then led me to her office. I had a sinking feeling this was not going to go well, since I was already feeling like less of a customer. She was young and thin and blonde and ironically, her name was Barbie. Somehow, it seemed to fit.
Upon entering her office, I explained the reason for my visit and was anticipating some assistance in discussing alternatives that would result in more money in my pocket and more money in her bank. However, it seemed all my questions were being asked for the first time, since she had to refer to her computer and pamphlets and once, calling someone else to answer them. I asked her if we could do some hypothetical forecasts comparing my current rate of return over five years to their rate of return over the same period. I can’t tell you what she said, but is sounded somewhat like no. The bottom line is, I ran out of patience before I ran out of questions, so I thanked her for her time and prepared to leave. I’m not sure which one of us was more relieved that I was leaving. Her parting shot was “Oh, here’s a brochure that has a lot of the things we were talking about. Why don’t you take it. It may help you with some of your questions.”
It being about noon, I drove a couple of blocks to a Wendy’s to grab a burger. As I entered, a young lady smiled and greeted me. Our conversation went something like this.
“Hello, are you ready to order?”
“Yeah, let me have a double cheeseburger. Can I have that with lettuce, tomato, and mayo only?”
“You can have it any way you want sir. Smile. Do you want just the sandwich or the meal?”
Just the sandwich, and a small iced tea please”
Would you like the senior iced tea?”
“It’s a little smaller, but it’s free. I thought you might like that” Smile.
“I would, thanks. It’s not pre-sweetened is it?”
“No sir, it isn’t. Would you like some lemon?”
“Here you go sir and, on the back of your receipt, there is a web site where you can take a short survey that can earn you $2.00 off your next order. A chance to save some more money. Smile”
“Thank you. I appreciate that”
“Have a great day sir. Smile”
As I ate my lunch, I thought to myself, I wonder how much the young lady at the bank makes compared to how much this young fast food worker makes. I had just been subjected to two scenarios. The first provided a bank with an opportunity to gain a customer with a substantial investment. The second provided a restaurant with an opportunity to sell a burger with no guarantee that I would eat there again. And the restaurant won, hands down.
“So what” you say. You can also get lousy service at fast food restaurants. I just got lucky, and you would be right. But maybe that is the exact reason that I was so pleased. I experienced something I didn’t expect to experience, in both cases. The difference is, I will go back to Wendy’s.
From the archives May 2014