At the end of a physically and emotionally exhausting week, it was lovely to know I would not be required to cook. Not ready to deal with the crowds of a restaurant, we decided to place our order by phone and pick up a meal to sooth our weariness form one of my favorite restaurants; Red Lobster.
Being an exhausting week, this was not just a matter of calling in and picking up. Returning to Columbus form Circleville by way of an equipment drop off in Hilliard, we took time to check out the menu on-line and call ahead to see how long it even took. “10-15 minutes”, was the reply from the phone operator, so we decided to call back when we were appropriately close.
It has been years since I had taken the time to indulge in their pasta, so I dabbed to the corners of my salivating mouth with patience as we got close enough to finally place the order. The three full minutes of hold as I was passed form the greeting to the order taker should have been an indication that their timing was off, but I was too wrapped up in thoughts of those uniquely fantastic cheddar biscuits to put together these details, and so we arrived at the parking lot in what we expected to be perfect timing.
Obviously it was not. After 10 minutes of waiting in the parking lot, I began to become concerned that mu husband had not returned. Nearly 30 minutes later he came to car to inform me our food was still not quite ready.
Normally, I would have said “forget it”, especially because we had called to ask about timing, however there was one specific difference that turned what could have been very upsetting for people who were already tired and aggravated into an understanding of appreciation.
While I was in the car growing from anticipation to concern, the young lady at the door of Red Lobster was growing anxious as well. She noticed when my husband came in and had grown concerned over the length of time he had been waiting. It was she who called over the manager to express her concern over their customer, and the manager then spoke to my husband, while the hostess continued to express her distress over our wait.
That was all it took for one person to make a difference in what could have been our last Red Lobster experience. You never know what state of being your customers are in, but you can be sure that when you express genuine concern over their quality of experience, whatever they may have been feeling, you have made them feel better. Often it is just about knowing you care, more than rather the experience is actually a good one or if it is bad.
That is exactly what they young lady on 161 did; she made us aware that she cared for our experience. This location is my new favorite Red Lobster, but more than that, she has renewed my faith in people. In an age of “the customer is always right” people who work in the service and sales are often wary of irrational consumers with ridiculous demands. Those who have worked in this environment for long, often become calloused with the expectation that every customer is a potentially dissatisfied jerk, and unfortunately they are too often right.
As consumers, we have become selfish, forgetting that there is another human being on the other end of our exchange. Rather or not our dissatisfaction has been caused by the individual to whom we are expressing our sentiments, we spend our anger on the first person in our path, and continue to do so until we feel we have achieved some kind of results, even if those results are just the knowledge that we made someone feel as bad as we do. Right or wrong, it is we the consumer who have helped create calloused attitude of the service industry.
Maybe that is why, when one individual behaves differently, it makes such an impact. My husband could have shown his tail inside the restaurant, explaining in his obnoxiously loud voice that if we had been told originally how long it would take, we could have placed our order then and have been home already. The hostess could have done nothing about the long wait and allowed the food to come out nearly a half hour late losing customers not only for their location, but for the entire company. Instead, one individual took a position of care, it was responded to with gratitude, and the results were not only a pleasant and relaxing meal, but a feeling of respect and well being that has lasted into another day, and will be a memory of satisfaction each time I see a Red Lobster sign or commercial.
How will you invest yourself in today? Will you drudge to your job and get through the day wishing for something more? Hopefully you will take whatever situation you are given, and make a difference in the world, not just in that moment, but in future expectations.