Last night on my way home for class, I stopped by my minimart to buy a Diet Coke. I say "my" minimart, because I love it. It’s the best minimart on the planet!
My minimart isn't fantastic because their Diet Coke is colder, their Cheetos crispier or their gas cheaper. In fact, I don't think I've checked the temperature, crunch or price on any of those things. This little minimart - that looks like every other minimart out there - has killer customer service.
Even though I only stop in once a week, they remember me, say hi and treat me like family. I'd go so far as to say they are even watching out for me—something important for a gal traveling alone at night.
They're never perplexed when I can't find the right change at the bottom my purse or ever act like I'm interrupting them at 11 pm, when I can clearly see they're trying to clean up. And last night the clerk took time out to come outside to check out my new car.
In short, my minimart is to convenience stores, what Russell Wilson is to football.
Motivational speaker, author, and founder of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant, Bob Farrell, would call this type of customer service "giving ‘em the pickle."
Farrell explains in his presentations and videos how he once got a letter from an angry customer that changed his life. The customer had asked for an extra slice of pickle and the waitress was going to charge him a $1.25 for a side of pickles. When the customer explained that he was only asking for a slice and the waitress discussed it with her manager, came back, and said she would have to charge him a nickel for the slice.
The customer wrote, "Mr. Farrell, I told her what to do with her pickle, hamburger and milkshake. I'm not coming back to your restaurant if that’s the way you’re going to run it."
Farrell not only apologized to the customer, he told his staff "GIVE 'EM THE PICKLE!"
And today he passes along the "pickle war cry" to thousands. "Given 'Em the Pickle," means more than just customer service. It's about putting your personal stamp on customer service that sets you apart from your competition.
If there was pickle award, I know my minimart would receive it. In a world where every minimart looks alike, and their products are virtually identical, my minimart has set themselves apart. Next week I'll be going back again for my Diet Coke because the folks at my minimart are truly Pickle People.
Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.