Balancing customer service and helpful precautions
By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
Over the weekend, my partner and I went for a drive in search of a good place to hike; but, with the closures of parks and trails in place due to the pandemic, our hike turned into a mini road trip instead. Once at our destination, my partner wanted a coffee, so that meant it was time to get in line. The small town we were in only has few locations of the coffee chain we were looking for, and many were temporarily closed, so we went to the only one available.
We pulled up to the drive-thru window and the employee passed us the Moneris terminal attached to a pole—they taped it to a two or three-foot-long stick. My partner’s card didn’t have tap and the sun was glaring pretty hard, so between every button the employee brought the terminal close to her so she could tell what step we were at before returning the terminal to our car window. Another staff member placed the drink onto a tray, and then the first employee then extended the tray out towards us.
It all just seemed a bit much. And maybe
it’s my lack of going out often that caused me to feel that way, but all
similar and comparable chains within walking distance of my home in Burnaby don’t
nearly have the same level of precautions. Granted, they also don’t have a
drive-thru… but the employees actually touch your cup to hand it to you at my
home location. Sure, they’re wearing gloves and sometimes masks, like most
people I’ve seen.
This experience got me thinking, what are the right ways to approach the
pandemic when working in the food industry? Should employees respond more like
the coffee house in the small town—closing their dine-in options and only
running the drive-thru with lengthy precautions? Or should they be more like
the many chains near my home, where customers still come in and order (but leave
promptly). There’s a bit more humanity in the whole process in the latter case certainly.
I understand the need to keep safe and sanitary, but we mustn’t lose sight of
our customer service and care in the process. Maybe it was just a small-town
kind of thing, but it really does give one something to think about.