There are two things that are easy to find at any major airport; bad food and bad service. Having lived in Atlanta, I was familiar with Moe’s Southwest Grill, so it always seemed like a good option when it was meal time and I was on Concourse C at the Atlanta airport. The food was fine and the service was good, and for airport dining, this is the best I could hope for, or so I thought. A couple of years ago, while in between flights in Atlanta, I stopped by Moe’s for a quick meal. There is usually a line at Moe’s and that day was no exception. The difference that day was that I was greeted by a nice gentleman named Michael. Michael was handing out laminated copies of the menu and talking to the customers waiting in line. If you are familiar with Moe’s, one of their routines is to periodically have all of the employees look up and yell “welcome to Moe’s”. Michael started off by thanking all of the customers for choosing Moe’s and then was joined in by a loud chorus of “welcome to Moe’s” by the rest of the staff. I was really impressed by Michael and his enthusiasm, but wasn’t sure that it would last.
Every time I fly through Atlanta, I go by Moe’s to see if Michael is there. When Michael is there, I see him greeting each customer, offering them a menu, asking if they have any questions and making suggestions or recommendations. Michael is even proficient at cross selling, telling everyone about the great cookies they have. Considering it yet another line at the airport, the customers seem to be in pretty good spirits. A couple of weeks ago, after I got my food, I walked up to a table that just became available. Michael saw me heading for the table, which had not been cleaned, and told me if I waited just a minute he would get it cleaned for me. He quickly headed to the back and returned with a cloth and cleaned the table before I sat down. When Michael is not there, the difference is noticeable. The experience goes from being excellent and enjoyable to average (well above average for an airport, but not memorable). Every time I see Michael, he is as enthusiastic as he was the first time I noticed him two years ago.
On this last trip, I spent a little time talking with Michael’s manager, Vernon. Vernon said that when Michael first came up to him asking about a job, he knew within the first fifteen seconds he would hire him. I am pretty sure that Vernon is used to getting compliments about Michael’s service. Unfortunately for Vernon, and for the customers, Michael can’t cover all of the hours Moe’s is open seven days a week. One of Vernon’s challenges is that he can’t find anyone who can fill in for Michael, because he sets the customer service bar so high.
We should all strive to “be like Mike”, or in this case, like Michael. He is not doing anything complicated (which is not to say that it is easy), but rather making a difference through how he makes people feel. Is the food any better because of Michael? Probably not, but I bet if you asked, customers would rate the taste of their food higher on days when Michael is there. I also have to give Vernon credit. First, he made a great hiring decision. He also put Michael in a position where he can make a great difference and he has been able to retain Michael for two years so far.
If you want to see great customer service in action, stop by Moe’s Southwestern Grill at the Atlanta airport. If Michael is there, you won’t have to ask for him, he will greet you with a smile and you will know who he is.