Hope and I were running errands. We needed lunch. We needed stuff. Both were at Wal-Mart.
I know. Big chain.
But they also had a McDonalds.
I know. Big chain.
We ordered. Hope went to get whatever else we needed. I waited.
It was a busy time, it’s a McDonalds-ette and for some reason lots of people were ordering little pieces of chicken.
I waited patiently, taking pictures with my phone, watching the Amish family and the other-than-Amish families. The order-taker and the manager both kept me updated on the progress of my little pieces of chicken.
Finally, our order was ready. “I gave you ten,” the manager said. I had ordered six little pieces. “And here. Sorry about the wait,” as she handed me a card for a free burger or cheeseburger or chicken or fries.
The correct thing for me to do is to point out how unhealthy the food is and that more of unhealthy isn’t a helpful thing. But you and I both know that we end up going to both of these places because they are quick and affordable and on the way. And the manager, without any complaint on my part, without any squeaky wheelness, saw my wait and wanted to apologize by, in essence, giving me my meal free (the coupon and the 4 extra chicken pieces).
I never thought I’d find proof of a Seth Godin piece in a McDonald’s in a Wal-Mart outside Fort Wayne, Indiana. And yet today he wrote about listening to the loud people and, as I just read his piece, I realized that the manager in this store was behaving as if she had read his post. Of course, he hadn’t written it yet, and I didn’t read it completely until between this paragraph and the previous one.
He talks about listening for need and meeting it. Don’t spend so much time listening to the complainers, don’t spend time assuming that everyone is the same, he says, listen. And meet needs. And find the people who are most likely to spread the story.
I know. This sounds like a post that is about customer service and misunderstood organizations and linking to a really cool writer. And all that may be true.
But I’m also thinking that there was this guy who came representing the biggest, most misunderstood, faceless, pervasive family-owned business of all. And he spent a life-time, a short life-time, listening. Knowing that everyone may have the same core needs but is struggling with very different pains and broken places and challenges, he started with those broken places. Blindness. Insecurity. Abuse. Irrelevance. He didn’t care much about the complainers, about the self-righteous critics.
And he’s ended up with some people who are absolutely committed to his brand. Stupidly so, at times, and he’s had to talk to them about their customer service and…at times…calling some of them to the home office because they were messing everything up. And, for reasons that make no sense to some of us, taking some of the wrong people and leaving some of the wrong people.
But sometimes, when you least expect it, one of those people committed to the brand does something caring, listens, just like the boss.
And you think.