Would You Like Ketchup or Salt?

Charles Robinson

This is the biggest "pet peeve" I have!! When this happens, the guy that sits next to me at work finds my reaction very amusing. So what is the problem, you may ask. Here it is;

This is the biggest 'pet peeve' I have!! When this happens, the guy that sits next to me at work finds my reaction very amusing. So what is the problem, you may ask. Here it is; 'I absolutely hate the drive thru window at any fast food restaurant.'

"I absolutely hate the drive thru window at any fast food restaurant."

We in the IT realm have all had this experience, you go out to get some lunch, pull into the Burger King drive thru and place your order: A Whopper w/cheese value meal, No Onion, No Tomato, king sized, with fries and Coke. Nothing to complicated, something that they deal with every day. You then pull up to the first window to pay and then on to the second window to pick up your freshly prepared food. Everything is fine up to this point, but this is where it goes down hill!!

As you sit there, waiting, the individual that took your order continues taking orders of the victims behind you, never acknowledging your existence. A second individual arrives with your order and places it on the counter for the drive thru attendant to hand to you. First your drink is given, then your food and if you are lucky, you hear a grunt that sounds like "Have a good day" and you then drive off.

First, there are things you expect when you go through a drive thru. You want all the items that you ordered, the way you asked for it, with everything being hot/cold and fresh, and your condiments included. You are using the drive thru because they are supposed to be convenient and quick and you are usually pressed for time.

So what is my problem? Let me give you some "real" examples of what I have experienced at the drive thru's of your modern fast food establishments:

q       Order a burger with no tomato or onion and get both on the sandwich

q       Get a large drink with no ice in it. I did not ask for no ice!!

q       Order cheese sticks and get no dipping sauce, plus the sticks are cold.

q       No napkins in the bag.

q       No ketchup.

q       Order a meal for my family and get an extra drink and burger that I am charged for.

q       No straw for your drink.

I know, pretty minor stuff right!!?? It is until you are driving down the road, eating your burger and need a napkin to wipe the mayonnaise off your mouth and there are none in the bag. Or better yet, you bite the burger and get a mouth full of tomato, which rank right up there with mushrooms, flat out disgusting (My opinion). And just try and drink that X-Large Dew with no straw, now how minor is it??

What?? This is a tech site and you are writing about the local fast food joint? Well stick with me and I will explain. What is the one thing that fast food restaurants and the IT career field have in common? A little thing called "Customer Service".

Directly in front of my desk hangs a framed poster that my boss put there. It is one of those motivational posters, intent on brain washing you into conforming with some trumped up idea that some extremely boring person thought up. Now out of all these that I have seen, this is the only one that I can agree with. It states:

"Service Is The Lifeblood Of Any Organization. Everything Flows From It And Is Nourished By It. Customer Service Is Not A Department...It's An Attitude."

Like I have said before, we are in a "Customer Service" industry, like it or not. This is the area that most IT folks lack any kind of knowledge in or patience with when it comes to dealing with customers. See, someone can absolutely love working on computers but the moment they have to interact with someone, they freak out, the blood pressure goes up and they do not handle the situation very well at all. And like the statement above says, it is an attitude, and not the one that will get you a fat lip on a Saturday night.

Now let me go back to the drive thru for a minute. Why am I picking on them? Well, it is the simplest form of "Customer Service" that I have seen. A customer goes to a business to spend money, orders something that has been made a million times before, pays what is owed and all they expect in return is prompt, courteous and correct service. The only person that the customer will see is the drive thru attendant which is the only individual that they will speak to and interact with the while they are there and if the service ends up being lousy, the business gets a bad rap because of that one person. And yes, all of the experiences that I mentioned above are very small, but it is the small things that make all the difference.

So you're thinking "Yeah right. How are you comparing servicing a customer at a drive thru window and a customer that has a computer need?" Well it's all "Customer Service" and no matter how you cut it, the small things will make or break you. Lets do a little comparing:

No straw for your Dew - You have your drink but are missing a small but important part.

You load MS Word and don't install any fonts - The customer has Word but is missing a small but important part.

See where I am coming from? Two small things left out and you are thinking that the person at the drive thru is a complete idiot and the person that you loaded MS Word for is thinking that same thing about you. OUCH - hurts don't it??

I have had it said to me that "Minimum wage pay gets you minimum wage performance." Well I think that is a bunch of hooey, an excuse to let someone get away with providing substandard service just to avoid correcting the problem. Learning good customer service skills early on will only benefit the individual in the long run. But if you happen to be someone or if you know someone that lacks these skills, it is never to late.

For those who have the experience, teach the ones who don't and if you are in charge of an IT department, demand that "Customer Service" is a top priority. If you are one that lacks the skills, ask for advice and then follow it. Put yourself in your customers shoes and act as if they are standing in that drive thru, providing a service to you and think how you would feel if it was bad.

Now for those of you who don't believe me about the importance of "Customer Service" in the IT career field, I can only give one bit of advice. You might want to learn this phrase:

"Would you like ketchup or salt with your order?"

Think about it...

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This article was originally published on Feb 26, 2001
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