“Now Hiring!” signs are everywhere, especially in restaurants. So are “dining room closed, drive-through only” signs. We also see signs that say, “Due to supply issues, some menu items may not be available.” All of this signals that you may not have a stellar experience while dining in this particular establishment. Understaffed restaurants mean overworked employees who are doing their best just to get the basics done. On a recent road trip, Suzi and I went 15 minutes out of our way to go to a Dunkin’ Donuts in Denver. When we got there, the dining room was closed. We couldn’t use the drive-through because we were pulling a trailer. Bummer! We got Dunkin’ Skunked.

In the middle of all this, you sometimes run across a bright spot. You encounter a person who goes the extra mile or does something to make things right. I like to highlight those, so in this post, I’d like to share two recent stories.

ABCD Service (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty)

On the same road trip as the Dunkin’ Skunked incident, pulling the same trailer, we had a different experience the day before. I had misunderstood Suzi earlier in the day. She had wanted to stop at a Dairy Queen in Baker, California. I didn’t realize that and rolled past the exit without getting off. We were talking to our son on the phone (hands-free of course) at that moment and by the time she noticed we were passing the exit it was too late and it’s too far to get off and turn around. She was disappointed.

I wanted to make it up to her, so I found a Dairy Queen in Las Vegas and asked Google to navigate us there. We got off at W Sahara Ave and headed there. I pulled into the parking lot and went to the door only to find, you guessed it, the dining room was closed. I couldn’t go through the drive-through with my trailer, so we sat in the parking lot behind the restaurant for a minute consoling ourselves when Suzi noticed an employee coming out to throw out the trash.

I opened my window and called out, “Excuse me! How can I get some ice cream when I can’t go through the drive-through?”

“I got you!” he replied and came over to the car. “What would you like?”

“Can we get a hot fudge sundae with Spanish Peanuts and a small vanilla cone?” I asked.

“Sure!” I’ll be right back. I gave him a $20.00 bill and off he went.

I joked with Suzi that that might be the last we see of that 20 bucks, but very quickly the young man came back with my change. The total was 6 dollars and change. “Keep the change,” I said. “I really appreciate you doing this.”

“No, no,” he surprised me, “It’s my pleasure.”

“Wow!’ I thought. I pressed him and he said, “How about you keep the 10?”

“How about you keep the 10,” I countered. “I really do appreciate you.” He graciously agreed and Suzi and I went on our way enjoying our ice cream.

Service Recovery

A couple of weeks ago Suzi and I went through the drive-through (no trailer in this story) at a Culver’s in Lincoln, Nebraska. They asked us to pull up because we were going to have to wait for part of our order. Boy did we wait! After way too many minutes I was getting ready to get out of the car, go inside and ask if they had to go catch the fish for my fish sandwich (snarky, huh).

Just as I was about to open the door, I saw someone coming out of the restaurant. “Here comes someone,” I said to Suzi, “maybe this is our order.” When I noticed he wasn’t carrying any food, I said, “Nope. It looks like he’s got someone’s change, he’s carrying money, not food.”

To my surprise, he came to our car. I rolled down the window and he said, “I’m so sorry it’s taken this long to get your food. It shouldn’t have happened this way. Your order will be out in less than 3 minutes. Here is your money back and here’s a coupon for another free meal on your next visit. Again, I’m so sorry. Thank you for your patience.”

Another Wow! That guy turned a service disaster into a monumental service recovery that not only satisfied us, it also ensured we would be back to his restaurant again soon.

The message? It’s twofold. First, there are great people out there overcoming barriers and doing great work. Acknowledge them when you can. Second, strive to deliver ABCD service in everything you do and if you fail (it happens), deliver a monumental recovery.

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