Customers, generally, don't ask for a whole lot. They want good service. When they interact with you, they would like friendly service, and overall they expect your policies to be based on reason and logic.
Recently I had two illogical and unreasonable experiences, just 30 minutes apart.
I was traveling on the Florida Turnpike, heading from Tallahassee to an evening meeting in Lake Worth. Since I knew I wouldn't have a chance to eat dinner because of the 6 p.m. start time, I decided to eat a late lunch.
Around 2:30 p.m. I stopped at the Canoe Creek rest stop. At the Nature's Table Cafe I saw they had a tuna sandwich in the cooler. I wanted a slight change. "Can I get the tuna in a wrap?," I asked the attendant. "Sure," she said, "but it will take about 5 minutes."
"That's Ok,"I replied.
But after just a few seconds, she thought a bit and said "We can't make a wrap because the person who makes them is on break."
I looked around. I was the only customer in the middle of a quiet, weekday afternoon. "Can you make it?" I asked.
"Nope, that's not my job, she said."
I wasn't upset. Just hungry. I decided to head on down to the next rest stop and get my tuna wrap there.
At the St. Lucie rest stop I happily approached the Earl of Sandwich. On the menu sign they had saliva-inducing photos of a tuna sandwich, and right next to it, a turkey wrap. Surely they could combine the ingredients of both and make a tuna wrap, I thought.
I placed my special order. The attendant just stared back at me in silence.
Perhaps I should ask a different way, I thought. "I'd like a tuna sandwich, but no bread. Instead of the bread, I'd like the tuna in a wrap." I even made the motion like I was wrapping a wrap.
"Is there someone else I could talk with?," I asked.
He went into the back and spoke with the manager. After a lengthy conversation, the manager emerged. She asked again, "What would you like, sir?"
I repeated my request, as pleasant as possible for a hungry traveler.
"I'm sorry sir, we don't have any wrap material. We're all out."
"But what if I had ordered a turkey wrap? Could you make that?," I asked.
"Sorry, sir," she repeated. "We're all out."
I soldered on, down the Turnpike, sans tuna wrap.
Upon exiting the Turnpike in Lake Worth, I tried one last time, at a place interestingly called Jon Smith Subs.
Not only could they make my tuna wrap, but it was the best tuna I have had in years. Or perhaps I was famished. Either way, Jon Smith Subs saved the day. And their service was great too.
Customers can accept "No" for an answer, but it sure helps if the reason why makes sense. If you can't help a customer in the specific way they request, it's important to understand their needs and try a different way. And whatever you do, please never say "It's not my job."