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Ins & outs of outstanding customer service

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POSTED September 8, 2012 1:06 a.m.

Wow!

That was my reaction to the customer service from one of Manteca’s fast food restaurants when I lost my ring of keys – keys for my home, the office, a storage unit and a personal post office box.

The two people to whom I will be forever grateful are assistant manager Kathy Hangaard and Crystal Miller – both staffers at In-N-Out. They went more than the proverbial extra mile to save my day. In fact, the round trip recovery effort covered about 24 miles altogether.

I had gone in to the eatery for one of my late in the day lunches and ended up chatting with the worker at the counter. I laid my wallet and my keys on the counter behind the cash register. Since there was no one in line behind me I was talking too much and not paying attention when I paid for the order, put my wallet in my back pocket, picked up my drink cup and filled it with diet soda.

Sitting down I sipped on my drink until Miller brought the sandwich to my table noting that I had changed my order from the last time I was there for lunch.

My keys were not an issue until I’d finished my lunch and headed for the door, reaching into my pocket, the other pocket and was shocked the keys were not there. Walking back to the counter I asked the employees if they had found any keys on the counter – they had not.

I asked that they alert the assistant manager on duty to be aware of my missing keys if anyone should turn them in later in the afternoon. They assured me they would definitely call if they turned up.

Back at the paper over the next hour was spent at my desk finishing up a story when the phone rang. It was Kathy saying my keys had been found. She said there was a complication: they were about 12 miles down the road where a burger customer had stopped at a Texaco station there to buy some gas. He told them he had a set of keys that didn’t belong to him and thought he might have picked them up in Manteca when he had stopped for lunch.

Texaco had telephoned the In-N-Out customer service department and they in turn called the Manteca store with their assistant manager calling me – saying if I couldn’t break away from work they would make arrangements to pick them up for me and bring them back to the Manteca store at Yosemite Avenue and Highway 99.

Longtime staffer Crystal Miller was finishing her shift when she volunteered to make the trip and get my keys. Now that’s going the extra mile for an old guy who has been a constant repeat customer as much for the attitude of the workers as for the quality of the food.

My thanks and appreciation also goes out to assistant manager Kathy Hangaard for her management style and for taking the time to follow up the loss that was my fault to begin with, not theirs. Where the keys were left on the counter, they had to have been clearly behind the register that could not have been seen by an employee.

My only regret is that they can’t accept tips from an appreciative customer for going above and beyond in their service.

I have been more alert to good customer service over the past week since this happened. There have been several other instances where the employees have done more than expected.

We had taken several days off last week spending time in in Pinecrest with our youngest son Tim and his family. Attempting to log on to the Wi-Fi at the lodge where we stayed was causing me a good deal of grief and I wasn’t able to get online to check out the happenings back in Manteca.

The general manager of the facility spent more time than she should out of her busy schedule and searched out the problem. I had been using a password that was one number away of what it should have been – smiling as she solved the problem.

Another appreciative moment came from a lone employee at the UPS Store in Manteca near the Highway 120 Bypass. Sending a camera for repair in Vermont, she was very careful in packing the Nikon and very pleasant as other customers came in the door and the telephone was ringing. She handled the multiple tasking like a seasoned professional.

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