Serving Customers

Today I woke up thinking about customer service.

And for the record, I had some AmAzInG customer service on my ten day trek through three states. The pictures in the collage come from my CA stop, breakfast yesterday at The Mission (where they serve up Conscientious Cuisine - don't you love that?) in San Diego and a handcrafted set of salad spoons from Africa from Jill's peace walk that she generously gifted to me.

On the flip side, I had some not-so-stellar service, too, so I've decided to recount of a few of both types of encounters as I reflect and grow.

One of my flights was delayed due to weather and I didn't arrive to my destination until midnight. Too tired to even pursue the free hotel shuttle, I decided to hail a cab. Keep in mind that this is a huge decision for me because my frugal side typically chooses free every time. But I didn't have the time nor the patience for free. My plan was going along smoothly until we were almost out of the airport and the driver finally inquires as to where I'm going. It was immediately after I said Comfort Suites Airport please that his demeanor changed. They have a free shuttle, he tells me curtly. Yeah, I know, but I don't know their number and it's midnight and I'm tired ... that must have sounded like blah, blah, blah to him because he goes on to say that the man standing next to me was taking the Crown Plaza shuttle and that the CP is right across the street from my hotel. Well I decided on a cab instead of the shuttle, I tell him. Does he maybe need the address? That's when he starts going off about how he waited in line two hours ... since 10:00 pm as if I didn't know how to tell time ... to get first in line and that now it's going to take him another two hours (until 2 am?) to get back to the front. Really? He's mad ... at me ... for hiring him? I hear myself saying out loud that I'm sorry but I wasn't thinking about him, only about how tired I was 'cause it was midnight and I'd gotten up at 4 am and did I mention I was tired ... and then I find some empathy for his situation and ask where he usually takes people. He tells me that they usually want to go downtown but I do not not not want to go downtown and that's where my empathy stops. Except to hand him $30.00 instead of the $12 it was going to cost me. To shut him up. apologize, appease him. Next time I think I'll go with free.

Our time at breakfast yesterday was just the opposite. We were met with a smile and immediate positivity: Sit where you'd like - and no worries if you change your mind and switch tables - and let me know how I can help make you more comfortable. Now this is a guy who deserves my thirty bucks! I left there happy as a clam with an invitation to move to CA or come back as quickly as I could.

Think about the difference between those two experiences;
which one am I likely to want to replicate?

My final reflection on this Sunday to savor is quite possibly etched in my heart and mind because it was a last-minute errand with my Dad, just before we bid adieu for another six months or so. We had three stops which I'll liken unto the Goldilocks' encounter with the Bears' three chairs. The first stop found my dad frustrated with Papa Bear. He was gruff and told us flat out that what we wanted needed him to do would be a "pain in the a--." Really? Who talks like that? Dad had actually given up on the guy, but I got out of the truck, attempted to make a few connections, and we left there feeling that that chair wouldn't do. At all. 

The third stop was neither good nor bad. We got a lukewarm reception from a congenial but not overly-welcoming rep behind the counter. He was helpful but not at all joyful. He smiled but not necessarily sincerely. Maybe he's an introvert, so I don't want to judge. I took a picture of their mission statement which I'd love to post here, but it's on my flip phone and I don't have any way to share it. I'm guessing that chair would suffice in the absence of any other chairs. 

Our middle stop - I'll call the guy Lonnie 'cause that's his name - is one I'll likely remember for a very long time. It was clear that my dad already has a connection with Lonnie, because our visit began with him obnoxiously and without much pause ringing the doorbell like fifty-five times. A cracker in his hand, Lonnie rushes to the counter with a gregarious smile and two words: Holy Man! My first words to him - though it seemed instantly like I'd known him forever - were, "Did you just call my Dad Holy?" to which he replied without batting an eye, "Better than holy sh--, right?" Instant laughter. Immediate and unadulterated. Night and day from our two previous stops. Lonnie said yes to what we wanted needed and we knew it'd be ready when we returned in 15 minutes before we even had to ask if it'd be ready when we returned. It told him that next time he should demand that Dad bring him some cheese from the farm to go along with that cracker, to which he quickly responded, "I like cheese!"

Just like Baby Bear's chair in the Goldilocks saga, Lonnie's approach to customer service - and I suspect to life in general - is just right. So when we got back there to find that the project we left him was ready to go, I asked him what his secret is. 
And he said this:
1. I spend time in the great outdoors with my daughter every chance I get.
2. I take a multi-vitamin every day.
3. I read the obituaries and I know that we don't get a lot of time.
 But every day we do get a choice. I choose happy.

That's it. In a nutshell.
Lonnie is serving customers 
and doing so with happiness in his heart.

Hey Dad, take a block of cheese along next time you head Lonnie's way!


  1. Could you please come back? I'm ready for breakfast and I think they are holding our table...
    I've also noticed: Service can more easily be delivered with a smile--when you are smiling back!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. Oh how I like Lonnie's #3...lots to reflect (and act) upon. Glad you had safe travels!

  3. I'll be in Barbara withdrawal this week. Love ya!!!!
    xoxo - Lisa
    Growing Firsties


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