Pretend Customer Service

I’m going to share a secret with you that only my parents, siblings and wife currently know.  When I was a child I had an imaginary friend and his name was…wait for it…Elsie Boy.  I can’t chips-drinkfor the life of me remember how I came up with that name but clearly my vivid imagination was an early indicator that I was an extremely gifted child.  Ok I’m actually pretty normal but I thought that might be a nice segue to my point.

Over the weekend I visited the lovely mountain town of Big Bear, California.  In search of lunch, I stopped at the local VONS supermarket (Safeway for those of you outside of Southern California) and ordered a sandwich from the deli.  The sandwich was $5.49 and they had a special deal where I would get chips and a soft drink at no extra charge.  I was craving an iced green tea from the Starbucks across the way so I opted only for the bag of chips.

When it was time to pay, the girl behind the counter asked me if I wanted a drink.  She indicated that I would save money if I got chips and a drink.  I responded with, “I don’t really want a drink.  Is there any way you can pretend I got a drink?”  Without any hesitation she said “Sure, why not,” grabbed a cup from a stack and scanned it.

As the customer, I know I asked for a bit of customization, but the VONS employee was up for the challenge.  She could have stuck to her guns and said “No, you have to get a drink to get the deal.”  How often have you encountered a customer service professional that could only see things one way when just the tiniest bit of creativity would delight the customer?  In this case, the ability to play a little game of make believe with the customer was a key ingredient to delivering awesome customer service.


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