A Personal Parable on Customer Service
I recently stopped at a pizza place to pick up fifteen pizzas for an overnight event for my son's church group. The pizzas had been pre-paid under the name of the coordinator. Happy to help, I arrived at the pizza place ten minutes early, hoping to arrive at the church before the 7:00 pm dinnertime.
Customers lined the walls of the narrow waiting area. Strained-faced teens answered the constantly ringing phone. Overheard communication down the pizza assembly line indicated at least a ten-minute wait for the order. My son and I squeezed into the impatient throng of patrons.
Twenty-minutes later, an irate man stood and spoke over the din.
"You said seven minutes. It's been thirteen. You've gotten my order wrong twice. Give me the next two pizzas for free or give back my $13.59."
The stammering service rep explained they could not hand out someone else's pizzas for free.
Not relenting, the man threatened to continue his rant unless they returned his $13.59. The register opened, and the door slammed as the man left.
Moments later, someone from the assembly line shouted, "Was that the guy who ordered the two large pepperoni with extra cheese? I was just about to start his order."
"How long have we been waiting?" whispered my son.
I hushed him with a smile.
The weary service rep asked for everyone's name to get a sense of who ordered what and when. I stated the name of the coordinator and the number of pizzas.
"That order isn't finished yet?" called the same voice from the assembly line.
Within five minutes, the order was finished. As I gathered pizza boxes into my arms, the person belonging to the voice came out from behind the ovens.
"Please call tomorrow. This order took way too long. I want to make it right for you."
Clearly, managerial authority had spoken.
I told her someone would call in the morning. With the help of the now-relieved service rep, the fifteen pizzas were loaded into my car. My son and I drove to the church, making it just five minutes late.
Aside from the obvious relief of receiving the pizzas and reaching our destination, another thankful thought entered my mind. Earlier in the day, I racked my brain trying to think of an object lesson to share as a bedtime story for the girls I would be supervising. I had one in mind, but it seemed stale and overdone. Now, I had a fresh one to share courtesy of God's faithful and timely delivery.
I made sure to mention to the coordinator about the manager's promise to rectify the delay, hoping the church would be reimbursed for the sizable cost. The next day I received an email, stating the reimbursement was in the form of two free pizzas. The coordinator offered them to me as a thank you. I returned to the pizza place to receive an unrequested reward, which my ravenous sons appreciated by proof of picked-clean boxes.
Since this personal parable took place, I have thought about the meaning of customer service. The $13.59 guy demanded his free pizzas when his order was mishandled and delayed. His frustration was understandable and justified. But, he left with his money returned and no pizzas. My son and I left with our fifteen pizzas and ironically received two free ones because we demanded nothing. We learned receiving good customer service depends on customer response and serving others without expecting anything in return yields reward.