So there I am, in my usual lunchtime quandary—do I go for Pho? Thai? Sushi? You get the drift. My hunger is in full-blown ready-to-punch-me-in-the-gut mode and I’m at a loss for what to have (because if you’ve ever waited too long to eat, you know your rational thought process goes out the window!). As I’m stating how hungry I am for all my fellow Projectliners to hear, I spy a little red menu for a nearby taco truck. Yes! I’m saved… Or so I think.
A few of my friends at Projectline decide to join me in getting their lunch fix. Then, I discover that we can call in our order and have it ready for pickup. Wow! Who knew taco trucks took orders by phone? Is this a new era of customer service? Or is it what Tony Hsieh refers to as Delivering Happiness? If you aren’t very familiar with taco trucks or other fast-food trucks, Seattle has them everywhere—from cream cheese spicy dog vendors to trucks serving vegan dishes or very specific Korean dishes like Kalbi bowls. Many of these trucks are mobile and travel to different locations, like a mini-restaurant on wheels. You can even follow them on Twitter to see where they will be next! Some have become so popular, that they stay in one area.
Being in a rush to get to the next meeting, we decide to call in our order for a quick pickup. Voila! Our hunger and time issues are solved. So I make the call, someone answers (“Yes!”) and asks me if they can put me on hold (bummer…), but I say OK. We then decide to start walking toward the truck to save even more time. Fifteen minutes later, and actually standing in line at the taco bus, I get frustrated and hang up. What do I see next: the person in the truck picking up the phone and saying “hello?” When they realize no one is on the line, they hang up. What? Infuriated but hungry, we wait another five minutes to order and another 15 minutes to get our food. We get back to the office 35 minutes after I made the initial call.
So my question is: Do you consider this to be bad customer service? Or, do you chalk it up to something like: “you can’t expect to be overwhelmed by great customer service from a taco truck?”
My colleagues and I had a fiery discussion on this topic. My stance is that if you create the expectation of fast service, you need to deliver on that promise. So what if it’s not a Fortune 500 company. Shouldn’t every company strive to deliver great customer service? Customers might forgive your inattention to their needs once—or twice if they’re especially patient—but pretty soon, if you don’t deliver happiness, their calls will stop, and you won’t see them standing in your line anymore.
Have you had either a really good or really discouraging customer service experience lately? Do you adjust your expectations based on the kind of company you’re dealing with, or do you believe that every business should strive to deliver outstanding service every time? We’d love to hear your thoughts.