Customer Service is Alive and Well at Qdoba?!?

Good customer service

I sometimes feel like customer service is dead. With airlines herding passengers through like cattle, bowling alleys not being nice on a kid’s birthday, and having to press fifteen options to get to speak to a customer service representative, it’s easy to assume you are going to be treated with a frown and pushed out the door as quickly as possible. However, a recent experience at the fast food restaurant, Qdoba, has reassured me that customer service is alive and well.

Our favorite new place to eat when we go to Farmington, NM is Qdoba. If  you haven’t been, it’s like Subway for Mexican food. Your order is perpared on demand, and you then you go through the line and pick which toppings you want.

On a recent trip to Qdoba, I had a $25 gift card that had been used once. I believe it might have had somewhere in the $7-$9 range left. Our total bill was just over $18. I pulled out the gift card to use first, but it wouldn’t scan.

You know the feeling when the line is backing up and whatever you are trying to do at the register doesn’t work. The cashier called the manager who tried in vain to scan our gift card, but it still wouldn’t work. She smiled at me, told me to go ahead and enjoy my food, and she would find out why the card wasn’t working. I told her there wasn’t enough money on it to pay for the entire bill. She said that was OK, and we’d figure it out later.

We went about eating our meal. I was waiting for the manager to come tell me the card didn’t work, and I’d have to pay the bill in full. Instead, she came over to tell me that the card still did not work, but she was going to give me $10 off our meal. Again with a smile, she told me I could come up and pay whenever it was convenient!

I have no way of knowing if it was my card or their machine that was malfunctioning. I do know that the card had some money on it, but the manager did not. She took my word for it. When everyone is watching their bottom line, I was totally expecting to lose out on my gift card, and I would have been disappointed. Maybe not disappointed enough to never come back, but it would have not been the best experience.

Likewise, if they had held up the line trying to fiddle some more with this card while making all the people in line wait, that would not have been a good experience for the other customers. Nothing ruins a purchase like standing forever behind someone in line while the cashier has to phone Pluto to see if they can give you a 2 cent discount.

This manager did many things right. She kept the line moving, and she took care of the problem. She didn’t make me feel bad for trying to use a gift card or check my criminal record to make sure I wasn’t lying to save a few dollars. She did it all with a smile, not the fake one that says “I’m completely annoyed with you, but I’ll lose my job if I don’t play nice”  but an actual smile. She made me feel like a valued customer, not just a number.

Maybe Qdoba lost $10 that day, but I will probably go back there every time I am in town, and I will tell everyone I know how great they are. What is that worth in the whole scheme of things?

Customer service is not dead. It just gets harder and harder to find. With ever increasing competition, it might be wise if we could all take a lesson from the manager at Qdoba. Make the customer feel appreciated, and you’ll have a customer for life.

Have any good examples of customer service to share?

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  1. In Guatemala a few nice restaurants apply an automatic 10% tip, which is a lot of money compared to minimum wage, so the waiters are usually super nice. On the other hand they lack initiative so if your waiter asks how your meal is and you say bad they will give you the blank stare and walk away.

  2. That’s awesome. I had a similar experience at WalMart, and after trying for a few minutes the cashier just handed me the card and said it wasn’t working, and told me what I owed. I hate WalMart so much.

    1. Walmart would rather lose ten customers than possibly lose 3 cents. I wish I never had to go there again, but it’s a necessary evil.

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