Ask for compliments and see what happens

Several years ago my wife and I were driving home late in the evening and decided to stop by one of the local fast food chains to get a quick bite to eat. The experience was nothing more nor nothing less than was expected. Very routine and unremarkable. We shouted our order into a speaker box and strained to understand the broken replies from a teenager inside the building one hundred feet ahead. When we arrived along side the first window we offered our payment to the cashier and expected to receive our bag of quickly wrapped food items at the second window. Of course, we would examine the contents to make sure we actually received what we had requested. 

But then the unexpected, and unfortunately unintended, happened. The restaurant made us smile!
Just as I was beginning to pull the car forward I saw a small sign posted on the sliding glass window. It said, "Ask for condiments at the next window." Now you might wonder why that unremarkable reference made us smile. Well it didn't really. It was what I thought it said that got us laughing and has created a story that we've told over and over again. Ithought it said, "Ask for compliments at the next window."  

When I read the sign to Cindy she smiled and pointed out the error I had made as only Cindy can. (This is a family blog so I won't write what she actually said and called me)!

We roared with laughter and decided to ask the person at the second window for a compliment just to see what would happen. Our humor was lost on them. Teenagers!

Now, years later, I'm thinking of all the routine touchpoints that consumers experience every day. For the most part they are taken for granted by the businesses where we shop and make purchases. They are totally lost as opportunities to become talking points. What would have happened had that fast food operation really displayed the sign I thought I read? What if they were prepared to offer a compliment to anyone who asked for one at the second window? Pretty remarkable right?  Imagine the conversations that would ensue and how the restaurant would set themselves apart by making their customers feel noticed and special.

"Do you think I look handsome today?"

"How do you like my newly waxed car?"

"Aren't my children well behaved?"

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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