Having spent a brief stint in the service industry as a Jamba Juice drink artist and another as a restaurant server (Employee of the Month July 2007!… not like I remember or anything), I encountered my fair share of customer complaints. Many were warranted — like when I dropped an entire pitcher of soda on a dude. But regardless the gripe, “the customer was always right.”
These experiences have shaped the customer that I am today. As is well-documented here, when I have an issue, I speak up. And because I speak up, I usually get results. That being said, I always treat the offending party/company/llama with respect and I usually let minor grievances slide.
But I’m also a loyal customer. I’m an Apple fanboy. I swear by Vans. I’ll lay down my life for In-N-Out. And I sing praises for all the interwebs to hear about Moosejaw, Amazon, and the Mailbox app. Usually my compliments are directed toward the company or the product. Rarely do my compliments extend to the hard-working men and women behind these and the many other products and services I enjoy on a daily basis.
Last week, Joanna and I were out running an errand around lunchtime. We pulled up to the drive-through at Wendy’s to snag some Value Menu items and a few thousand calories. We were greeted by a cheery woman who gladly rattled off the ingredients on a certain burger, and let us know she would be happy to remove any of those items. I finished our order and pulled forward. After a brief wait, we reached the window. Our bubbly window attendant asked how our day was going, counted the number of burgers in the bag, and verified the number with us. It was at this time that Joanna remembered she wanted to ask for a cup of water. Looking in our rearview mirror and seeing a growing line of cars, I reluctantly asked if we could please have a cup of water. She audibly “psssh’ed” us and replied, “Of course!” She grabbed a medium cup (instead of the water-cup-for-ants), asked if we each wanted one, and wished us well as we thanked her and drove away.
After pulling away, Joanna and I remarked at how awesome she was and if we owned a retail business, we would steal her from Wendy’s in a heartbeat. I felt a desire to let her know how pleasant and helpful she was for what appeared to be such a thankless job. When we got home, I got on Wendy’s site, found their contact section, filled out a form, and left a glowing review of our drive-through attendant at restaurant #8262. After pressing submit, I realized that this was maybe my second or third time ever leaving a compliment about an employee’s service. That’s a terrible, awful, no good thing.
You’re probably all far better people than I am and are already doing this regularly. But if you don’t, here’s the challenge: take the time this week to compliment an employee. It could be the drive-through attendant, or the barista who writes your name with a Stussy “S” every single morning, or even someone you work with. Whoever it is, tell/call/tweet/email their boss and pass along your praises. It will only take a couple minutes and even better — it’s totally free!
I’d love to think that our Wendy’s employee’s manager will give her a bonus, or an extra day off, or some sort of recognition. But at the very least, I hope she’s told that she is an excellent employee who is doing her very best. Because sometimes, a compliment or a “job well done” is worth more than all of that anyway.