Of Panthers, Bratwurst, and a Greater Purpose – 10/14/14 TOW


I’m fortunate to be a season ticket holder of the Carolina Panthers NFL football team. At most games, I grab something to eat in the concourse before I go up to my seat, and the dynamics of the interactions with the staff at the food booths are usually VERY positive. Let me paint a picture…

First, I let my stomach guide me to the right booth (Will it be nachos, a burger, or bratwurst? Decisions, decisions…). Once I select the location – which typically has about 4-5 windows and lines of fans waiting to order, I choose the line, and begin slowly moving toward the front, taking baby steps after each customer is served – nothing special about the experience at this point.

But then it happens – a true customer service 21st century miracle! Are you ready? I get great customer service from (Are you REALLY ready?) people who are paid…NOTHING!

At almost every booth at every game, the booths are manned by volunteers. You can tell by their hats that they’re supporting a local high school marching band or a dance academy or some other organization. The “employees” are volunteers, but the organization gets a piece of the sales revenue.

When you encounter these volunteers, they ask you what you’d like, and they lean in to make sure they heard it correctly. These cashiers relay it to the co-workers to ensure they get the order passed on; the cashiers are always smiling, confirming your order. They’re joking with co-workers. There’s positivity EVERYWHERE!

They like their co-workers and care deeply about getting things right. “Now you wanted chili, is that right, sir?” or “Would you like extra jalapenos – no charge?” or “Was that a diet or regular?” or “Thanks much for coming! The condiments are in that silver station behind you. Enjoy the game!”

You might read this and ask “What’s impressive about this experience?”

These are people working for hours and hours in a tough industry – food services. They are not well-trained, they are on their feet for 4-5 hours at a time, and they’re dealing with sports fans – many of which are getting increasingly intoxicated as the game progresses.

Yet, the volunteers are positive. They convey appreciation. They work as a team with their co-workers. They listen, they confirm, then they get the order right…all without personally earning a dime.

So why are they so good? Because they know the greater purpose in what they do – supporting their kids and the activities their kids love. They know the benefits of their work and who benefits. They and their co-workers have the same goal. They WANT to do a good job for you…and for their kids.

To create a great customer experience, learn from these food service volunteers. Find the greater purpose in what you do.

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