Customer Service Lessons From A Doughnut Drive Through

I recently went through the drive-through of a doughnut franchise in our community. While I will not mention the name of the company, I will tell you they provided me with a great teachable moment to share regarding customer service.

On this day, I pulled up to the drive-through menu board to place the order that I have placed every week for 10 years: 2-dozen assorted doughnuts.

Once I had placed my order, the young lady spoke to me over the intercom, “Next time could you give us a day’s notice when you need to order this many? The other day we ran out at 3 P.M. and didn’t have any. We don’t make the doughnuts here, we have to order them, so if they run out too soon, we don’t have any for anyone else.”

I was speechless, and not just because I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet. However there were many things going through my mind that I wanted to say.

Things like:

“You are a doughnut store! You sell doughnuts! To make money, you need to sell doughnuts! To sell doughnuts, you need to always have doughnuts on hand! Clothing stores sell clothing, pet stores sell pets, and a lumber yard sells lumber! Can they do good business and succeed while not having what they sell on hand?”


“Do you realize that ordering 2-dozen doughnuts is the equivalent of me going to a fast-food burger chain and asking for 4 hamburgers? Do you think they would tell me to call a day ahead so they don’t run out of burgers? No!”


“Is it really my fault that you don’t order enough doughnuts to supply the customers you serve? Have you ever thought about planning out how many donuts you should order to be able serve all your loyal customers?”


“So let me get this straight… you are in the business of selling doughnuts. And, you don’t want to sell all your doughnuts? Help me understand…”


 “Could you please tell me who the manager and franchisee are? I would love to offer my services – for FREE – so that I can train their people on how to provide great customer service!”

While I wanted to say all of these things, I simply paused and said… “uh… OK.”

There are so many topics that could be covered in this single example of what not to do in business. But simply put…

Don’t make your customers work to do business with you. It should be easy, easy, EASY!

Some will fire back with, “But we have policies that have to be adhered to…”

Of course you do! Every organization has – and needs – policies and procedures to operate effectively. However, it is your job to help the customer find the path of least resistance in doing business with you. This doesn’t mean cutting corners, it means you doing the heavy lifting of navigating those policies, not the customer!

Also, go out of your way to serve the customer (It is called customer service, you know). For example, if a customer calls your place of business and asks to speak to a particular individual. Don’t ask the customer to call back. They have already made the effort to contact you to begin with! You take their message and deliver it to the correct individual. You follow up and ensure that they received a call back.

“But this takes too much effort…”

Yes, and your customers will love you for it!

There is so much more to say on this topic, but I have an errand to run. I am going to foot the bill on the lumber required to board up the windows of a soon to be out-of-business doughnut store.

That is, provided the lumber yard has any lumber.



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