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Don’t Argue Over BBQ Sauce: A Missed Opportunity for Customer Service Excellence

March 5, 2014
(Photo courtesy of adoproducciones,

(Photo courtesy of adoproducciones,

My fourteen-year-old son and I were at a fast food restaurant, and while we waited for our order, another customer went back to the counter and asked for another packet of BBQ sauce to eat with his chicken nuggets. The employee stated in a condescending, rude, and short manner, “That will be an additional $.25 sir.”

The customer then responded aggressively, saying, “I have twenty nuggets, and you only gave me one BBQ sauce! What do you expect me to do with all of those nuggets and only ONE BBQ sauce?” Not answering the customer’s question, the employee merely repeated the same response in the same fashion: “That will be an additional $.25 sir.”

As you already expect, the situation escalated, the supervisor got involved, and the customer received the additional BBQ sauce. Will this customer stop going to the establishment because of the encounter with the employee? Who knows, but there were some missed opportunities for excellent customer service in this situation. Listed below are five proven techniques that could have turned this situation into a positive interaction:

  1. Watch Your Tone! The old adage ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’ played true in this situation. Tone can make or break an interaction. Speak calmly and at an average rate.
  2. Listen to the Customer. Listening is an important aspect of finding a solution.
  3. Acknowledge your customer’s concerns. Actively respond to questions, and be clear and specific in your explanation.
  4. Offer Options (if available). Empower your customer to make a decision. Don’t make it for them.
  5. Find a Solution. Your customer doesn’t expect you to be perfect, they just want you to fix the problem.

Do not miss out on an opportunity to provide excellent customer service by arguing over BBQ sauce!

Nycci Parsons, Learning Engineer, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Nycci Parsons, Learning Engineer, Nelnet Partner Solutions

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