Just off of Highway 35-115, nestled amongst the outskirts of the bucolic town of Newcastle, is a small oasis. An oasis that the average driver would fly right passed, not even batting an eye. That’s because it’s a restaurant readily found—too readily, as some believe—across our country: McDonald’s. McDonald’s, that’s no oasis, you say. I can hear the sounds of your mouses drifting up towards the red x, but hear me out. We forget sometimes that just because a restaurant is part of a chain doesn’t mean they’re all the same.
One morning, a couple of weeks ago, I was driving up Highway 35-115, on my way to the ski slopes, at Brimacombe. It was early, I had my daughter with me, and neither of us had eaten yet, so when we saw those iconic yellow arches above the high snow banks. I pulled off the highway and into the drive-thru. We were the first customers in line, and we ordered an Egg McMuffin, a chocolate chip muffin, and a couple of drinks. The girl told us it would just take a minute to prepare the Egg McMuffin and if we were willing to pull up front they would bring the food to us. Well, I parked the car and waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, as our stomachs were beginning to audibly growl, the girl hurried out and handed us our food. Rather than the mechanical response of another business transaction, the girl apologized profusely, and mentioned that she had included a couple free hash browns, in the bag, as a form of reparation. Aside from the genuine apology, I was quite surprised by the added gesture. Not only were they sincerely sorry but they’d gone above the call of duty to fix the situation- a move only made by companies that swear by their excellent customer service.
An often overlooked aspect of the service industry is service recovery. A term referring to taking a customer’s hellish experience and turning it into a heavenly one. This doesn’t just mean apologizing to the customer but also providing them with something of value to ensure their continued business. In fact, a customer is more likely to return to your business following a service recovery situation, than after a normal transaction. There’s an old joke in the hotel business that if you want to hook a long-time customer it’s better to screw up the first time and then make it up to them.
Needless to say, the McDonald’s off of Highway 35-115 showed an excellent display of service recovery and certainly impressed me. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely consider stopping by for a quick bite, and some great service.
1000 Regional Road 17
Newcastle, ON L1B 1L9