That side of ranch impacts the customer experience

My favorite vegan fast food chain, Plant Power, makes delicious food. Their service is top notch with friendly team members and an upbeat, casual environment. I stand behind their goal to “provide tasty treats that are 99% GMO-free and made entirely without the use of animal products, artificial flavors, and served in biodegradable materials”. And personally, I am obsessed with their house-made ranch dressing that I like to eat with my fries (yes, I’m from Southern California).

Over the past few years, I’d order my meal, adding on the extra side of ranch, and find after leaving the drive-thru, the ranch was not included.

Since I was back on the road or at already home, I couldn’t turn around to correct the order. Plus, I never want to be **that customer** so I’d just grumble for a second, realize this is not a real problem and drive off. I knew that this would not stop me from being a customer. I’d be back to support them because where else can I go to get a quick, nourishing meat-free meal?

As time went on, I got in the habit of asking to make sure the ranch was in the bag before driving away. Each time, the kind team member would open the bag and say, “Nope, not there. Glad we checked!

During a recent trip, I approached the drive-thru window to pick up my order. Team member Madison greeted me then surprised me by opening the bag of food before handing to me. She said, “Let’s make sure we have everything right before you leave.” Looking through the bag, she even pointed out, “And the extra side of ranch is in there too. Great, you’re set!

While this may seem miniscule, as it is only a side of ranch, the impact can be seen as much larger. Here’s how:

How a Side of Ranch Can Impact the Customer Experience

Proactively support your diverse customer base

For busy moms with cars full of kids, returning to the restaurant after going through the drive-thru to pick up a side might not be an option. Same goes for disabled drivers who might be unable to easily get out of the car. No matter what, your customers likely do not want to wait in the long drive-thru line once again just to make a correction. When mapping your customer journey, include a “missed item” experience and take into consideration your diverse customer base. Mistakes will happen. But, how can you make it easy to correct?

Incorporate a double check whenever you can

As displayed by Madison at the drive-thru window, incorporating a double check can help to mitigate issues. While Madison does not pack the bag herself, the team member that did might have missed an item on the receipt. Madison’s extra 30 seconds or less to review the items in the bag could be what creates a loyal customer.

Customers will talk and you might not hear them

A side of house-made ranch at Plant Power is $0.46. If you forget that side in their meal and do not make it easy to correct, there’s the likelihood that the customer will not return. In my example, I didn’t say anything because there is little to no competition in my area for other vegan fast food restaurants, so I opted to just grumble instead of communicate constructive feedback. When my friends would ask me how I like Plant Power, I’d say I loved it but always add under my breath, “…when they remember my ranch, that is.” Sorry to sound so ridiculous, but just being honest. However, other customers are not like that and will speak up, either during their visit or later on social media.

In the end, Plant Power is my favorite spot to get a treat and I’m grateful for their hard work in bringing plant based meals into the mainstream.

Header image from Plant Power on Instagram.

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Jenny Dempsey is the Consumer Experience Manager for FruitStand.com and Apeel Sciences. With 16 years of building and leading customer service & experience teams, she is also the co-founder of a customer service blog, CustomerServiceLife.com. Jenny has been recognized over the years for her work, including the The ICMI Top 25 Thought Leaders of 2021and accepting the 2019/2020 CloudCherry CX Influencer Champion award. She has a Udemy Professor with her course, "Your Customer Service Toolbox: Best Practices for Beginners" and does customer service coaching on the side. Jenny loves being an auntie to her beautiful niece, travelling the world, singing and hanging out with her toothless rescue cats. She lives in sunny San Diego, CA.

3 comments

  • Great post, Jenny! Two thoughts:

    1. In-N-Out burger often triple checks my order. I used to think it was excessive but I’ve learned to appreciate it more and more as other restaurants routinely forget stuff. Also, they aren’t a vegan establishment, FYI 🙂

    2. The Mexican restaurant by my house ALWAYS forgets the side of rice. How many of us have had to get into the habit of checking our order before leaving the parking lot?

    I love this model for excellent service from Madison!

  • Gotta love In-N-Out for their trip checks and consistency of quality service. They are great examples of doing it right! A couple times a year, I’ll get their grilled cheese + fries – YUM!

    That’s silly about the Mexican restaurant and the rice. Do you end up going back and asking for the rice or do you just go on your way?

    • Well, now I pull off to the side and thoroughly check my order before I drive away. There’s nothing more annoying than getting home and realizing that someone didn’t get their meal!

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