One day my son went out with his classmates to Yellow Cab, a pizza parlor. They were in their pre-teens, aged 12. According to the story, they went in, seated themselves and waited for someone to get their orders. Nobody came.
After some time, they waved their hands to get anyone’s attention. When finally a server came to them, one of them joked, “Ba’t di mo kami pinapansin, kuya?” (“What took you long to take our orders, big brother?”)
To which the server quipped, “I was busy.”
My son then intervened and said, “Sumbong kita sa manager nyo. Customer kami eh.” (“I will report you to the manager. This is not the way to treat a customer, you know.”)
The server replied, “Eh di isumbong mo.” (“Go ahead, tell my manager.”)
My son who doesn’t back away from a challenge, really went to the manager and reported the incident. The result, their order of pizza was upgraded from 14-inch to 16-inch. All’s well that ends well. Still, it was not the way to treat customers, regardless of their ages.
When my son shared the story with us, we cautioned him about perhaps being rude to the server, demanding attention too eagerly. But my son insisted that they didn’t do anything to provoke the situation. It came really as a surprise to us that at a young age, he would go to that extent, and assert his right as a customer. I’m guessing, he has been hearing us talk about customer service. You see, customer service is one of the interesting topics my husband and I talk about.
There is a lot to be learned from the incident. After all, customer service is for children, too. In fact, companies if they are clever, here are ways they can make customer touchpoints through children:
- Parents often give in to their children’s preferences. Take the case of my children. Every time we dine out, it’s their choice of restaurant that always wins. We often go to restos where they have had a memorable experience. My older son couldn’t forget for example the time that a server in Friday’s (TGIF) gave him his Miami Heat pin (you know how those Friday’s servers have those pins on their uniforms). My younger son, too, can’t forget how a barrista in Figaro went out of his way to concocting a non-caffeine drink so that kids can have them. These are small things, perhaps, to adults. But for children these are big things. I know because they keep on repeating these stories with us, or with their friends. These experiences don’t even have anything to do with the quality of food or drink. Although, with those restos above, good food is a given.
- Children are potential loyal customers. They can be very candid and discriminating, and seldom compromise. If you disappoint a child, expect that you won’t hear the end of it. Worse, they won’t go back to that place ever and you lose a customer forever in that child. So, you wouldn’t like disappointing a child.
- Children are consumers. According to this article on Kaboose, elementary-age American kids spend around $15 billion per year, and they influence (whine and beg) another $160 billion in spending from their parents. I think the number in other countries is relatively the same. So, think of all these consumers waiting for your service.