Customer Service Versus Safety?

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I was reading the article in USA Today about the Mom Cyclist and her social media triumph over a service refusal at a local burger chain; one that touts its “green-ness” and so would seem a place that would embrace bicyclists.

And I’m torn.

First of all, there is the expectation of giving great customer service to each and every customer and meeting customers where they want to be met. Secondly, it seems this same burger place had served her at the drive through earlier. Plus, this took place in Oregon where environmental awareness is the state motto. So maybe the establishment should have planned for bike riding customers when it built the drive through.

On the other hand, I do believe there is a safety issue that needs to be taken into consideration. Ms. Gilbert is quoted as saying that bicyclists aren’t dangerous, so why are they banned from drive through windows? I say, bicyclists may not be dangerous, but cars are. And the drive through is designed for cars. I don’t know about Oregon, but down here in Texas, going to the drive through on a bike is likely to get you run over by an iPhone wielding Soccer Mom. I think we all know which vehicle would come out the worst. And while it is great to want to serve customers however they want to be served, it seems in this case as though we are not to consider the risk of doing so.

Does this mean the customer shoulders all the risk when choosing to be served in this way? What responsibility does the business have in the event the worst happens? I know this makes it seem to come down to the corporate lawyers again, where customer service can be a distant second to making sure you don’t get sued. But does a line need to be drawn?

I compliment Ms. Gilbert on her efforts to walk the talk of exercise and environmentalism. I know I wouldn’t get far on a bike with three kids riding on the back.

But I am also concerned that, in this case, safety is being ignored. Unless a separate “bike-through” is going to be built, am I being too risk averse to offer great service? Or am I being sensible about not wanting my customers to be pancaked by a distracted driver?

What say you: is this story a case of a customer fighting for good service using her social reach? Or is this s a case of a customer asking for too much and threatening business disaster by Twitter if she is denied her desire?

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