How Customer Service Changed My Life

By Mike Johnson

If I could relive a single hour of my work life, I’d select “running the floor” at McDonald’s during lunch rush. Synchronizing 20 crew members to speedily serve waves of customers was an adrenaline high.

The 70's were a time of small menu, big work ethic & enormous pride. This was the last company that fully got my soul.

I especially loved running production for “the bin” which was the heated, six-foot stainless steel warming box that held the sandwiches.

I’d order the grill team to produce quantities of six or twelve, in assembly-line fashion, depending on volume. They’d slide the trays of food to the top of the bin & I’d wrap & place them in the box for our “window people” (cashiers).

Experience provided “the feel” to match production to demand. The sandwiches were only good for 10 minutes. If I ran out, the entire operation seized up, ruining customer service. If I made too many, quality fell & waste expense increased.

Typically, when you ran the bin you also ran the floor. So I learned to get in the groove of never-stop action. I’d lope at least five miles per shift, pacing my store, making sure everyone & everything was operating just so.

In those days, a big lunch hour generated $700. The average check was under two dollars so we’d serve about 400 customers in 60 minutes.

When we were really in the groove, there would never be a line at any of our six registers. We had lobby & drive-thru service times down to 30 seconds, faster than customers could fumble for their money.

It was a symphony of synchronization. An addiction of adrenaline. A zoo of zen.

I was a customer service fanatic. During a visit to my restaurant in 1981, company President Ed Rensi gushed that our customer service was the best he’d ever seen, ANYWHERE.

Later, as a freelance writer, that experience got me hired to write an 8-page, bi-weekly, how-to customer service newsletter that was sold to companies across the globe.

Each issue I'd interview a top executive at the most service-renowned companies in America. I did these by phone. I wrote my content at home. Emailed the completed work to my editor.

I was one of the very first socially-distanced trainers of customer service in the world. That gig lasted 157 issues over six years.

So yeah, customer service & I had a deep & enriching relationship.

One benefit of writing is that you get paid twice. You receive a paycheck & you receive learning from everyone you interview & everything you research.

So I compressed all that learning into a concise, 16-page booklet, “101 Ways to Provide Exceptional Customer Service Today.” I sold many thousands of copies over the years.

Today, fully retired, I just give it away. Grab your free e-copy via the link here: "101 Ways to Provide Exceptional Customer Service Today"

Sadly, I don't have a single photo of me running the floor at McDonald's. But it's no real loss to me. I can close my eyes, see myself right there, & feel that zoo of zen all over again.


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