Picture this: a McDonald’s drive thru speaker, a drive thru worker, and a carload of parents and cranky toddlers disgruntled from leaving the park before they were ready. The only thing that separates them from nap time is the Happy Meals that are calling their names. It’s great that McDonald’s offers smaller french fry sizes and sliced apples in the Happy Meals now. That makes my husband happy.
What does not make me happy is the fight about the drinks. The drive thru lady says “what drinks do you want with the meals?” and my husband says “we don’t want drinks.” How do you think the drive thru lady responded? “You have to have a drink,” she says, sounding disgusted.
Ok, it’s really hot outside and the kids are crying. They have ice water in their cup holders. We don’t need the milk or (heaven forbid the sugar rush) soda or juice. Now, I do realize that the price of the meal is discounted by the price of the drink so that your point of sale system can account for and charge the drink. I served as the drive thru queen of a fast food place through high school and am familiar. I’m fine with you charging me for a drink because that’s what the meal costs. But I don’t really have to have a drink, I just have to pay for one.
Fast forward to the window where the drive thru lady tries to hand us the ice waters she’s prepared, where my husband again informs her we don’t want the drinks. Her demeanor changes from disgust to disbelief when she repeats “You don’t want a drink?” Nope. We don’t want the drinks. All six cup holders are full, and as we can’t pass you trash through the window anymore, no, we don’t want a drink.
How could this situation have been improved? Had the drive thru worker listened to and accepted the original customer request to not have drinks, and simply informed us of the necessity to charge for the drinks, my husband would have said “that’s fine.” Time and materials would have been saved because ice waters would not have been prepared, and the customer experience would have been much more enjoyable. Instead, attempts to force customers to comply with rules that make process easier for the business actually makes things harder.
This can be translated to social customer support as well. If your customer makes a statement or request that seems reasonable, take a moment to determine whether it is appropriate and feasible to bend to meet customer desire. The experience delivered can drive customer satisfaction and loyalty, and could turn out to be an easy way to make an ordinary interaction memorable. In my experience, taking a little time to ponder possibilities can provide many more options for customers. This can reduce the number of times the phrase “you have to” is spoken to your customers. Who likes to hear that? Not me.