We have no green beeeeeeans, today

I’ve worked for a couple of places, in my time, where company policy was “Don’t mention what we’re out of, and maybe the customer won’t ask.”

Maybe you’ve worked for places like that, too.

I saw this sign today and I just had to write about it.

Boston Market - Current shipment of green beans does not meet our high quality standards...

For those of you who don’t have one nearby, Boston Market is a semi-fast-food restaurant serving semi-homemade foods like meatloaf, roast beef, and chicken—rather nicer than the standard in-a-hurry food—with side orders you won’t see in anyone else’s drive-through such as mashed potatoes… and, as you can see from the sign, green beans. But not today.

Here’s why this sign deserves your Maximum attention:

Fess up

“Don’t mention the problems and cross your fingers” almost always results in a darned awkward moment when a customer, inevitably, does bring up the problem. Whether it’s something you’re out of, or something that’s gone wrong, someone besides you is bound to notice. During that awkward moment, you look like you’re less-than-honest. And at that moment, you are. You don’t want that! Fessing up, up front, looks good.

Write it like you give a doggone

I’ve sometimes seen “No tomatoes/orange juice/whole wheat buns this week” signs and the like, hastily handwritten on a sheet of copier paper at the point of sale, but those have an air of “buzz off & leave us alone about it” that isn’t present here. This one has something those dashed-off signs don’t have—an official imprint and some time and care in its phrasing and layout. Sure, it’s dead-simple, but the act of using letterhead and typing out a sympathetically-phrased sentence or two makes all the difference in whose interests the company seems to have at heart—this sign makes it seem as though they’re looking out for us customers. Nice.

Sneaky advert?

It’s not one of The Big Three fast-food places, and even in our local area I’d imagine there are many folks like me who don’t go here more than a couple of times a year. This nicely worded sign on their drive-through speaker actually highlighted an item that I had no idea about—and made me think of coming back in a couple of weeks to give fresh, company-approved green-beans-to-go a try on some other crazy-busy night! I don’t advise that you have supply issues just so you can highlight an unsung product you offer, but if a problem arises and you can make it sound like a future win for customers, why not?

Make the best out of mushy produce

Stuff goes wrong. That’s all part of running your business day in and day out.

Sometimes Maximum Customer Experience is about making the best out of a lack of green beans.*


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


*Unless what you’re out of is bananas… (watch to about the 40-second mark and you’ll get the gist of it…)