August 30, 2017
Customer experience promises can sometimes be really hard to keep. It's one thing to SAY you are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And then there is DOING it. I can vividly remember the confusion that set in when I went to a 24 Hour Fitness to learn that they were closed. But for southern-staple Waffle House, their hours of operation are not just a sign in the door or an aspiration. It is a promise.
Pat Warner, Waffle House's director of external affairs, explained this to NPR in a recent article. The story goes on to share that, "because Waffle House tells customers it never closes, the company feels a special obligation to stay open under the most severe weather conditions." During Hurricane Harvey, only two Waffle House locations closed...one due to being flooded, the other because roads leading to it were too flooded to pass. All other locations stayed open with "jump teams" of managers from Ohio, Tennessee and Georgia heading to Houston to keep the griddles hot.
Yes, the menu is simplified and not all items are available. But, they are open, serving hot meals to people who, in the face of devistation and grey skies, need a waffle or two in their lives to just feel some semblance of normal. Warner told NPR that keeping it simple helps Waffle House keep its customer promise during a crisis. "To be honest, we just cook bacon and eggs. But sometimes you need bacon and eggs."
This is customer experinece in the extreme. It would be so simple to close the doors. People would understand. Social would not errupt crying foul. Instead, Waffle House keeps the lights on.
Is my suggestion for everyone to stay open as the flood waters rise...of course not. But the lesson learned here is really simple. If you are going to make a promise...keep it. Even if that promise is just for some bacon and eggs.
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