Published on: May 18, 2017
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
You may recognize the setting in which I find myself this week - I was standing in pretty much the same spot last January, albeit in much colder weather, when I spoke enthusiastically about the new Shake Shack that was opening in my Connecticut town. Shake Shack, I have argued, is proof - along with the likes of In n Out and Burgerville - that fast food doesn't have to cater to the lowest common denominator.
One of the things that the Shake Shack culture always has emphasized is customer service; it is part of a through line that began with Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group which started Shake Shack in New York City almost as a lark back in July 2004. (Now it is a separate, publicly traded company with more than 100 locations in more than a dozen countries.
Recently, however, I had a bad experience at Shake Shack. I'd placed a dinner order at the counter for my two kids, Mrs. Content Guy and myself, and when it was ready, I peered into the bag and saw these two little containers of yellow stuff. I asked what they were, and was told they were cheese for my cheese fries. But, I said, I didn't order cheese fries.
The guy behind the counter stared at me and said, somewhat forcefully, "That's what your receipt says you ordered."
Now, it so happens that the receipt did say I'd ordered cheese fries, but I know I didn't because I never order cheese fries. The mistake was made at the cash register, but it didn't really bother me, even though cheese fries cost a little more. No, the big mistake was that the guy who delivered the order treated me as if I were the enemy.
I will tell you right now that the whole thing had a happy ending. I sent an email to management pointing out what I viewed as a crack in the system, and the folks at Shake Shack got back to me within about 20 minutes. I ended up having a very nice conversation with the store manager and the division manager, who said they were going to use the mistake as an opportunity to do more customer service training in the store. The irony is that my daughter knows the guy who I complained about, and she said he's normally an incredibly kind and solicitous fellow ... who, I'm thinking, was just having a bad day.
I tell you all this because I think there's a lesson here about how even a first class company with a high focus on customer service can have problems when the system - which depends on the behavior of people - breaks down. It can happen to anyone, and it can happen to any company. It all can be amazingly fragile.
Which is why it is so important for companies to make sure that their people feel invested in the mission and vision, and that they understand that they are the first, best ambassadors for the brand ... which means that companies have to invest in them as well.
I think the folks at Shake Shack handled the breakdown of the system absolutely correctly - I couldn't have asked for anything more, and I have full confidence in their ability to keep learning and growing and getting better.
I also think they'll continue to be vigilant.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: