Customer Utensils? It’s Not on the Checklist

I frequent a particular fast-food chain because I like their salads. But I’ve noticed a little detail that can be annoying, yet easily fixed. That’s the issue of placing plastic utensils in the to-go orders. Twice in the past three visits, I have forgotten to grab a fork before leaving the store. In both cases I’ve ended up someplace and had no way to eat the salad except with my fingers. Now, you should know that I generally walk in to the store rather than going through the drive-thru. So perhaps the employees have been instructed to place utensils in those orders. Why not all to-go orders?

But then there’s the larger issue. Why should anyone need to instruct these employees to include utensils in to-go orders in the first place? Isn’t that common sense? Apparently not in today’s transactional-thinking world. As more and more of what we do every day is manipulated by algorithms and menu-driven options, the less we are we required to reason through everyday issues. This is especially true of the little details for which we should have some empathy. We are no longer compelled to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes. More and more of us just follow the instructions. The result? If including utensils with in-store to-go orders is not on the checklist, it won’t get done.

Consider your work environment. Where might there be these kinds of incidental details that get overlooked? What impact does it have customer service and work-flow within the firm? Most people never say anything to the people responsible for fixing it. They just grouse about it to friends and loved ones, as I did to my wife.

This means you’re left with two challenges: 1) What details need to be added to your checklists to make sure you’re not unknowingly irritating customers? 2) What can you do to encourage a more mutually empathetic environment within your workplace? We’ll talk about that next time.

So what’s my personal solution to the utensil issue? Simple, the last time I was in one of this chain’s stores, I grabbed a handful of forks and stuck them in my car. That way, I’ll never run out of forks again. Others are probably doing this as well. Now the managers are probably wondering where all their plastic forks go.


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