Story of the Day for Wednesday May 16, 2012
Don’t Treat Them to Ham Sandwiches
Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.
“Welcome to McDonalds,” the young man said, “may I take your order?”
“You bet,” my sister’s husband, Sean, said.
The voice on the drive-through intercom replied: “Fire when ready; shoot to kill.”
They laughed at the unexpected reply, and were still chuckling when they pulled up to the take-out window. The restaurant manager, however, stood scowling with his arms folded across his chest. He loomed over a scrawny teen who meekly apologized, “I’m sorry I said ‘Fire when ready; shoot to kill.'”
“Please, don’t apologize,” my sister Mary protested, “we thought it was hilarious!”
But the manager was having none of it. The success of a franchise lies in consistency. You can’t afford to let free spirits slip the leash.
Scripted responses (“Would you like fries with that?”) may be necessary for a franchise restaurant to succeed, but we dislike being treated impersonally. Ever call a large company with a question or a complaint? The call service employee types up a decision-tree script on a computer and rattles off the appropriate scripted response.
Management prefers this cost-saving approach. But customers feel like they’re talking to a lawn ornament. It’s even more de-humanizing for the workers. The annual turnover rate at call centers is almost 100 percent.
One company, however, came up with the wacky idea of treating customers personably. After two weeks of introductory training, they offer new recruits $3000 to walk away from their job. They only want workers who want to be there. Employees are encouraged to decorate their work space any way they want. They’re trained to be adventurous, creative, fun, and a little weird. They ask how their customers are doing, about their plans for the upcoming holiday. If the customer isn’t doing well, the call service employee sends flowers. No scripts. Just treat the customer like a person.
Jesus’ approach to people was never scripted. No canned speeches; no cookie-cutter approach. When he encountered a Roman captain who viewed verbal orders as a sign of power, Jesus healed the captain’s servant by issuing verbal orders. When he met a blind man, he took him by the hand and led him out of the village. Jesus was always keenly aware of each person’s situation. When he miraculously fed over 5000 Jews, he didn’t treat them to ham sandwiches.
When Jesus sees you . . .
We visited a church in Missoula this last Sunday. The woman greeter welcomed us and patted me on the back. Later, I noticed that when she sang, she moved her hands — as if she was molding the words. “Now I get it,” I thought, “a kinesthetic learner.”
Normally, I miss these opportunities and mumble for the rest of the day about what I should’ve done. I’m not the touchy-feely type, but on the way out of church, I saw her, thanked her for being a good greeter . . . and patted her on the back.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)