While traveling back from Canada this week I found myself in LAX Airport searching for food to hold me over till my return to Reno. Since the options were slim and the lines were long, I chose to wait in a 20+ person line at Burger King since I was in no rush for my next flight. While the three cashiers were working hard at pumping people through the line, there was still a limit as to how fast Whoppers can cook and french fries can deep fry. Before I knew it there were more people who had ordered and were now waiting than people in line to order. I found myself holding ticket order #89 as the server said, “Number 62!!!” at which I realized I would be here for some time.
While I sat back and watched the angry mob tap their feet, look at their watches, and start to panic, it was evident that Burger King was doing their job as correctly and efficiently as possible, but it was the inpatient customers who were just not smart to order if they were pressed for time before their next flight. There were two specific people that demanded that their food be served to them right away or they would miss their flight. The lack of patience was beyond me and it was obvious that there were just a few customers that realized Burger King was doing everything they could.
So why write about this experience? This was one of the few times that I witnessed a business that was failing by doing everything right! Many people ended up getting their food and walking away frustrated even though the employees at Burger King were working as fast as they possibly could. Although this is a unique situation due to the different customer base in an airport, other businesses should know how to react if the demand is way greater than what can be supplied.
1.) Be real with your customer up front:
In the case with the Burger King situation, it would have been helpful for the cashiers to give the customer a heads up regarding the approximate wait time before the customer committed to buy. With my business, this means being honest with a customer that if I am busy it might be a few weeks till I can get to a job, even if that means losing the bid anyway. I would rather lose the job than have a person pissed off because it took me an unreasonable time to complete. What does this look like for your business?
2.) Keep the customer informed:
Since patience is so hard to come by these days it is important to keep the customer informed on what the holdup is. In the Burger King situation, there was a delay on the fries to be cooked so the server was smart to make an announcement to the angry mob as to why it looked like everyone was standing around (this was due to waiting on an item to cook).
3.) Smile and Apologize:
It is strange how this step does so much and is understandably hard for an employee to swallow his/her pride and apologize for something they didn’t do wrong. Sometimes you can rectify the situation by just being nice in the end. A simple, “I am sorry sir for the wait, I hope you enjoy your meal” might just make up for the impatience of the customer. Although a pissed off customer probably won’t hurt this specific Burger King, due to it being in an airport without a consistent customer base, it hurts the business as a whole if a customer walks away believing that “every Burger King has slow service” which will prevent them from returning to any Burger King in the future.