This past weekend our daughter made her first big adult purchase – a new car !! My wife and I drove up to be with her for support and advice if she needed it. We wanted to be there just in case things got challenging, but we expected her to be the decision-maker throughout the entire process. To say she was anxious and excited would be an understatement. It took about 30 minutes to drive from her apartment to the car dealership. That only made her anticipation grow even more. She felt she had prepared for every potential question and possibility.
As we arrived at the dealership, she boldly walked in and asked for Chris – who had been her contact for the past few months. He wasn’t there. She stammered and began to have a twinge of doubt about what she had envisioned as a perfect day. “But, I have an appointment at 11:00am.” The person who greeted us was so gracious and told us not to worry. She would make sure to get us someone to help with the car purchase. I could see her becoming nervous, but that soon changed. Enter Dave.
This young man came over directly to Melanie and said, “I understand you’re here to get a new car. I’m sorry Chris couldn’t be here. I’ll be glad to help you through this. It’s going to be a great day.” There was no pressure and he didn’t come across as being put off for having to fill in for Chris. In fact, he apologized for the mix-up and assured us over and over that everything was going to be fine. He was right. We were at the dealership for three hours !! However, it didn’t feel like it. The folks working were attentive, courteous, diligent and mindful. They kept us informed each step of the way from turning in her old car, to financing, to let us test drive the car before she made a final decision to whether we needed anything to drink. The entire process was excellent.
As we were going through everything, I sat back and watched as other potential customers came through the dealership. Each person was treated the same way and they either walked away being informed since they were “just looking” or they ordered a vehicle to get their process going. In fact, Dave took potential customers while also attending to our daughter.
During one of the many conversations throughout our time there, Dave explained they were short-staffed (like most employers these days). He stated over and over how much he appreciated our patience. We were all so impressed with the service that was given that it was easy to be patient. In the back of my mind though, I felt he thanked us because not every customer had been patient on other days. You could sense his relief.
That made me reflect on what is happening in the service industry today. You see, this hits home because I work for a restaurant chain that relies on the amazing frontline people in our locations, our manufacturing plant, and our call center. I hear countless stories of guests who lose their patience at the drop of a hat. It takes very little for some to yell, confront or walk away from an interaction when they came to enjoy a meal. If you read about how people who give service are experiencing work these days, this is becoming the norm and not the exception.
The difference today is that employees are willing to leave themselves instead of being treated poorly. That shouldn’t be surprising. No one wants to be treated poorly when they’re trying to genuinely meet a customer’s needs. Grace is being shown less and less and it’s affecting our workplaces.
We all can change this approach and we can do it immediately !! The experience we had with Dave should be an example of how to keep calm, assess the situation and see how to move forward. He stepped in and my daughter was grateful that he did. She didn’t bemoan the fact that her original contact had something come up. Life happens and there is SOOOOOOOO much more in life than having something take a different direction unexpectedly.
We need to remember that we leave an impression on every person we encounter every time we encounter them. Every. Time. That impact can be memorable in a positive way just as much as it can be in a negative way. Those who work in frontline roles don’t get to choose how you’re going to treat them. They experience things based on the choices you make.
This week start to keep in mind those who serve. They strive to do great work to take care of you. Thank them. Treat them well and let them know you value what they do. This should be true in your own organization and also with anyone you meet in other situations.
At the end of our time at the dealership, Melanie got her car and we ended up with an incredible experience. I plan to tell everyone about him and the good folks at Bill Estes Toyota. We’re thankful they were glad to help us and set an example of how workplaces and interactions can be all the time !!