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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Customer Service Lessons at McDonald's

I ate at McDonalds by myself today. I'm not sure if I've ever eaten at McDonald's by myself. Say what you want about the fast-food chain, I will always love the place. Perhaps the sentiment goes back to my youth, before we sickened ourselves by frequenting the drive-through bi-weekly, sometimes daily. McDonald's wasn't just a convenience -- it was a treat! "I'll take a Big Mac, small fry and a Coke!" (The value meal didn't exist then.) Of course, I had to give up the Big Mac when I learned the calories in the mega-sandwich exceeded an entire day's calory requirements. Now, I order the salads (crispy, not grilled). I don't intend on finding out the caloric value. Please don't inform me.

Anyway, as a manager of a customer service area, I like to watch customer service in action. Since I was by myself and was eating at 11:00 AM (practically breakfast time), before the lunchtime rush, I made some interesting observations.

1)The young teenage girl working was naturally friendly and easily conversed with the diners upon taking orders -- a truly refreshing sight!
2)The young teenage boy had trouble figuring out where to deliver the two food items in his hands. He kept looking at me, almost in despair, as I patiently waited for my order. I smiled and nodded "no", a few times. Apparently he had been trained not to ask questions. Eventually the manager yelled orders to "give the two wraps to the customers in the drive-up. This manager (I think she was the manager) was the only person in the food area that knew what to do and she let every customer and employee in McDonald's know it. "Where's that salad? Go clean up the tables! How old are these fries? The ketchup needs filled! Now!..." (These managerial skills must must be protocol in fast-food school. I see the technique used frequently.)
3)The teenage boy didn't want to talk to anyone, but he was able to help the teenage girl with the register when she had trouble. I'm guessing that since he had a knack with equipment, they let him run the headset for the drive-in. So what if he couldn't make the connection between the food ordered through his headset and the the people in the drive-up lane!
4)McDonald's customer service training must ultimately focus on cleanliness. Don't mind the inconvenience you may cause a customer enjoying his or her lunch. Just get that floor mopped! They'll move their feet. (Apparently, this philosophy isn't always applied in the restrooms.) I have an idea, Kid! You go clean the bathroom and let me finish my lunch. Then the floor under my table is all yours.

Ok. Enough said. McDonald's --I still love you, always will. So what did I learn from today's experience? In terms of customer service, nothing that I didn't already know -- welcome customers sincerely (as the young girl did today), make processes transparent (as no one did today), and so on. However, my experience today has unfolded a debate in my mind. Are females born with natural customer service skills? And are operational issues more easily mastered by the male gender? Of course, I'm speaking in general terms. I know some girls are geniuses with a tool. And some boys are helpful and can multi-task. But, in general, are these skills learned because of our gender? Or are we born with it? I've studied this issue in the adult working world and have way too much to say about the topic. But observing two teenagers, different genders, and basically the same position has sparked my interest a bit.

Let's hear it from you! What do you think? Post a comment.

1 comment:

Stef Kramer said...

I'm posting my own comment here. I ate at the same McDonald's on Sunday. A young, well-spoken male took my order and actually made a nice food recommendation. So, there goes my theory...