What Would You Do: The Conclusion

In last week’s blog, we posted a customer service scenario from Chick-Fil-A. As I write this conclusion to the scenario, 11 responses were posted. All 11 came up with a similar response: take care of the customer. We had one response cite the Chick-Fil-A top 5 values, one of which is “Customer First”. One comment described this scenario as a “no-brainer”, but for some reason, the manager didn’t see it that way.

Here’s how it ended:  As I asked if she would trade me for an electronic coupon;

Manager:  “I’m sorry sir.  There’s nothing I can do.”

Me:  “No, there is something you can do, you’re choosing not to.”

Manager:  “Have a nice day sir.”

Me:  “Thank you.”

Manager:  “My pleasure.”

What would make a reasonable person come up with this response at any restaurant, let alone Chick-Fil-A which most of us believe has an above average reputation for customer service?

My mind decided to fill in the gaps:

  • Maybe she was busy, stressed, and overwhelmed and didn’t want to take the time to get an electronic coupon.
  • Maybe it was me.  Maybe my tone and body language led her to think, “I’m not giving this jerk anything.”
  • Maybe she just got a warning from corporate to not take paper coupons under any circumstance.
Some of you are going to fill in your own blanks….and you weren’t even there!!  We can assume all day long.  In fact, most of us choose to fill in the blanks, “I know exactly why she did that….”  Truth is, we don’t know what made her take that approach at that time in that situation.    

At any rate, the end results are:

  1. The paper coupon still sits on my desk….mainly as a reminder for me to write this blog today.  It will go in the shredder this afternoon, as I don’t like bad karma on my desk.
  2. This story just went out to 1,100 of my contacts via our newsletter, twitter, facebook, and linkedin.  

My conclusions:  

  1. It’s not about the money. It’s about the feeling.  
  2. As a leader, one of my top phrases to avoid is: “There’s nothing I can do.” It creates the perception of you’re not trying, you don’t care, and you’re just being lazy; all of which may or may not be true, but that’s how it looks. There’s always something you can do, it’s a matter of what you choose to do.    


  • Whit Mitchell Reply

    Send your story to corporate HR and wait a couple of weeks. You’ll have sandwiches delivered to your door morning, noon and night. I have chosen to ban this restaurant.

  • R.L. Bandy Reply

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. “……Maya Angelou

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