It was Tuesday, February 7, 2012. I drive into the Jack In the Box parking lot on Crenshaw Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway. I decide to go through the drive through since it is 8:45p.m. and raining. Upon reaching the menu and ordering speaker I decide that a small fry and Jumbo Jack should satisfy my hunger. I am not aware that this is the night for me to encounter substandard service.
After sitting at the ordering station for what seems like a steady minute someone finally says “Hi welcome to Jack In the Box.” I respond with a friendly “Hi” and am ready to order when I am asked to wait. Upon finally taking my order, after what seems like another minute, the associate asks if everything is correct on the screen which is by far the best part of the entire experience. After confirming my order I am asked to pull forward. I think the substandard service is over but cannot be farther from the truth.
While in the middle of taking another order the associate finds time to give me the total. I use a credit card, and after about four or five minutes the associate hands my order to me with two receipts. I leave the establishment wondering if I was overcharged and hoping that my order is correct.
When determining the quality of service given at a fast food restaurant I measure the friendliness and rapidness of the associate. Although food quality is important, I do not place much emphasis on temperature and excellence at fast food diners because lower prices sometimes means shoddy product quality. Since the concept behind fast food eateries is for customers to receive orders at a rapid pace, employees should be capable of getting consumers in and out of the establishment in less than fifteen minutes. Less time should be spent in the drive thru since the idea is to conveniently drive in and out when pressed for time. At the most, I expect to spend five minutes in the drive thru at night and become frustrated when the ordering process takes longer. Needless to say that my level of impatience was at an all time high on February 7, 2012 since it took the associate two minutes to take my order and five minutes to grant my request. For a restaurant located in a suburban area seven minutes is entirely too long to wait for a hamburger and small order of fries.
In addition to a lengthy wait, the attitude of the associate was not welcoming. Even though it is Jack In the Box I still expect to be given undivided attention at some point during the interaction. The average drive thru window worker gives me a limited amount of attention when I pay for my meal which is acceptable. The associate at Jack In the Box was detached during the payment process. While I was holding out my credit card he was busy preparing the order of another customer. Although I do not consider myself to be the sensitive type, the whole experience made me feel like my patronization was not valuable. Regardless of whether the establishment is a fast food restaurant or eat-in diner, a customer should never be made to feel as if he or she does not matter. The service during the payment process was so bad that I was convinced that the associate overcharged me until I carefully reviewed the receipt.
If I had to give the Jack In the Box on Pacific Coast Highway and Crenshaw Boulevard a rating based on the service I received that night it would definitely be a low mark. Although my order was correct and the food excellent, the problems that I had to endure before receiving my request were overbearing. When I enter a drive thru I expect to be handled in a swift and proficient manner. The service that I received at Jack In the Box was neither quick nor skillful but rather below average at best. I do not expect to return to the establishment unless I hear of positive changes being made.
Among such improvements would be faster service. I am fully aware of the company motto “We don’t make it ‘till you order it” and do not suggest that food be prepared ahead of time as that would ruin product quality. I do, however, believe that service at the ordering station can be rapid. A customer should not be forced to wait two minutes before receiving an introduction from an employee. Such concept is especially true when business is slow and workers are idle. In these instances there is no excuse for slow response time at the ordering station.
Aside from being rapid, the introduction should also be friendly. Although it is customary for most fast food chains to welcome drive thru customers to the establishment, such kind gesture should go beyond words. Customers like to feel welcome and often boast about associates who go above and beyond the call of duty when serving. Whereas a simple “hello” is not remembered, giving undivided attention and double checking the bag for correctness are thought of long after the interaction is over. Individuals who receive such care are more likely to return to the same establishment and spend more money than those who did not receive above average service. While loyalty is not necessarily the number one goal for a large company like Jack In the Box, it can go a long way in helping the corporation maintain a good reputation.
When I drove into the Jack In the Box on Crenshaw Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway I aimed to order something that would satisfy my taste. Although I received food that fulfilled my hungry desire, the service that I received at the ordering station and take-out window warped my nerves. I left the establishment confused and irritated, kind of wishing that I had went elsewhere to eat. If terrible service is defined as being slow and impersonal, Jack In the Box has captured the essence of what it means to be bad. Although the establishment endeavors to reach out to audiences not favorable towards the fast food movement, it must find a way to do so without jeopardizing its current patrons.