Tales From an Intern: Some People Just Don't Get It

December 19, 2008

I drove home to Greensboro, NC today.  On the way in, I dropped by the Mexican restaurant where I used to work.  When I walked in, I was thrilled to see two of my old bosses (friends of mine) meeting with the regional manager (another friend).

There's something that I just love about catching up with people who you used to spend hours with each day (especially if one of those people owes you lunch because he thought McCain would win the presidency).  

So I walked over to the table where they were meeting and sat down.

The conversation shifted to memories and co-workers.  We reminisced about playing rock-paper-scissors to see who had to fix the clogged toilet (I lost) and I made sure to remind my boss about his little lunch debt, just in case he'd forgotten. 

As I was about to get up and get some food, I asked what they were meeting about.  

The regional manager told me, "We need to cut some more hours."

And that's when the flood of frustrating memories washed over me.  In a market with six virtually identical Tex-Mex restaurants within 7 miles of each other, when the only real differentiating factor is the customer's experience, the corporate response to decreasing sales was always cutting hours

I just can't understand that thought process.  Sales are down, food costs are up, so let's make (insert name of $7-an-hour employee here) leave early.  That'll fix it.

Well it didn't and it won't.  In exchange for that $7 (that's one burrito), the company understaffed the store for an hour.  That means everyone working was more stressed, customer interaction was tense and rushed and the restaurant eliminated any chance to provide remarkable service.

What makes it even worse is that Qdoba preaches the importance of customer service to better its word-of-mouth marketing.

And that reminded me of why I'm glad to be working for NMC.  I get paid by the hour here too.  But I can't imagine being asked to hurry up with my work when it might mean sacrificing quality.  NMC talks a lot about valuing customer service, but it also acts like it values customer service.

Here are four other articles on the importance of customer service:

Anybody else have a good one?

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