Crispitos, Attitude, and the Customer Service Experience

My Fridays start with a run at 5:30. Three of us meet at a buddy’s house and run in his neighborhood. The route is sometimes unbearably hilly, but the gourmet coffee and conversation are worth it. There will be many stories about these two, since we spend as much time with each other as we do with our wives. Hmm, I don’t think any of our wives have complained about our absence. It’s as if they don’t mind some alone time. If we are not running or cycling, we are meeting for coffee. I am certain we prefer the coffee.

I drink way too much coffee. It is not uncommon for me to drink a couple of pots a day. To tell the truth, that is not my worst habit. I love gas station food. If you fry it, and or cover it in cheese, count me in. My favorite gas station indulgence is a crispito. It is a version of a deep fried chicken and cheese enchilada. Makes my mouth water thinking about it. I will usually get four of them and an illegal diet soda. The diet soda is “illegal” because my wife all but forbids me to have them. Oops, did I admit that?

After my Friday run, I will stop at a nearby gas station on my way home. You guessed it, they have crispitos. I am most likely the only person smiling at 6:45 in the morning. The lady working the counter has been there since 5:00 AM. Her day gets started with stocking shelves and preparing the delectable fried breakfast, which sits under the heat lamps for a few hours. She has already burned herself with hot grease and now has to deal with unhappy people starting their day.

I walk through the glass doors in time to hear a grouchy exchange between her and a customer. The customer is rude and griping about the overdone sausage and cheese biscuit. She maintains discipline, but you can see her desire to throw hot grease on this guy. I had to resist the urge to trip this guy on his way out, which is not too far-fetched behavior for me in a past life. I decide the best course of action is to see if I can brighten her day. I slip over to the counter, with a smile on my face, and blurt out a “Good Morning, how you doing?” She is skeptical, but manages a smile and ask what I need. “You would make my day, if you would load me up four of those crispitos.” She starts to relax, smile, and gets into the conversation. Ten minutes later, I am waving goodbye like we have been good friends forever. As I walk out the door, I hear her belt out a good morning to the next customer coming through the door.

This got me thinking about customer service and the responsibility of the customer. Society places the entire customer experience responsibility on the service provider. We want a great product, at a great price, when we want it, and how we want it. We often go into the transaction with a bullying attitude. After all, we are the customer, and we are giving them our hard earned money for an overpriced product. That service provider owes us for giving them our business.

If you are that type of customer, you need to take a step back. The customer experience starts with the customer. If you start with negativity and bullying, you have already determined the level of the experience you are about to receive. I dare say, if this is you, you have never had to provide customer service. No one’s day benefits from this behavior, not even yours.

Let’s give some thought to how negativity propagates throughout the day. Let’s assume you wake up in a mood and decide today is all about you. You roll over and get snippy with your spouse and follow that up with the kids. You have now affected their day and they will affect everyone on their path.

Most of us start our day by picking up coffee or breakfast on the way to work. This is our chance to step it up a notch. This is our first customer experience of the day, and they are not family, it’s hammer time. How many people do you think roll through that same establishment each morning? Let’s be generous and say fifty people roll through and get to enjoy the aftermath of your wrath. Each of those fifty people may have five more customer experiences that day. If the negativity keeps flowing, that could be hundreds of people affected by one person’s bad attitude.

For a moment, forget about being a customer and think about the person on the other side of the counter. They start their day, like you, and are there so they can pay the bills, like you. Would you want to be treated in this manner? Better yet, would you want someone treating your wife, daughter, son, or mom with that disrespectful attitude?

On your next customer experience, say hello and compliment whomever is providing you service. If they have a name tag on, use their name when you say hello. If they don’t have a name tag, ask them for their name and give them yours. I will bet my next crispito at least two people will have a better experience and a better day.

As a preview to an upcoming post, your attitude affects more than your customer service experience. It affects your success or failure in many things in life. Based on my life experiences, I fear many people are not aware of the impact of having a negative attitude.

Do yourself another favor, seek out the crisptio.