One morning several years ago I decided to have a big old bad American breakfast at a well known local restaurant. I ordered bacon, eggs, and buttermilk biscuits.
Here in the Southwest many of us like to have salsa or picante sauce on our eggs. When I asked for some salsa, the waitress replied, “I’m sorry, sir, we’re all out.”
I looked to my right, out the window and saw a big grocery store. I knew they sold picante sauce there. Yet, the waitress hadn’t thought to suggest to the manager to send a busboy across the street to buy one or two jars until their vendor showed up with a fresh supply.
Last week my 82-year old mother was hospitalized with dehydration. She started getting better as soon as they started feeding her intravenously. But her throat was dry and she was still thirsty. Yet the straws we attempted to use were not flexible. In her weakened state, it was more difficult for her to drink because the straws did not bend. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it? Yet the fact is, because of the increased difficulty in drinking, she took in less fluid. Even though we mentioned it to the nursing staff and the physician, no one took the initiative to pass the word to Purchasing. We finally brought our own. We could have also driven a half of a mile to a Sam’s Club and a Wal-Mart where the straws could be purchased.
It’s the little tiny things like no salsa and no flexible straws that can negatively impact the customer service experience. Some times even to the point of losing customers or creating negative buzz.
Are your employees empowered to show initiative in order to keep customers satisfied? Is it okay for them to go outside the normal purchasing channels when the normal procedure breaks down?
Is there a process in place to notify purchasing to expedite requests when supplies are exhausted, especially when the lack thereof negatively impacts the customer experience?