If you've rolled through the dining room of the Broken Bow, Nebraska McDonald's, chances are pretty good that you've met Alice Pirnie.
She's been a venerable installment there -- dishing out smiles and happy meals for 26 years. By now, the 90-year-old has become something of a local legend, recognizing customers on a first-name basis. And, if you happen to be rolling into town by way of the 92, then she'll more than likely ask your name and inquire about what town you happen to be from.
When she's not busy inquiring about locals and newcomers alike, she's handing out stickers and smiles to small children. After two decades of service, her exceptional customer service has passed down across generations, though, she's still known as the "Mother of McDonald's."
Talk about dedication.
In an industry that consistently sees high turnover, Pirnie has shown that her commitment has been a valuable asset for this McDonald's location.
Right now, the fast food industry is experiencing record turnover. According to the MIT Technology Review, the employee turnover rate in the industry is 150%, that's the highest since data started being recorded in 1995.
Now, there's a variety of reasons for that. While robots haven't fully learned to flip burgers (yet) and pump out fries at record speeds,
Going Above and Beyond
There's a lot we can learn about her work ethic: She strives to bring each customer joy, no matter what. She arrived at the Broken Bow location 26 years ago when the locaiton first opened, and only took extended time off when a grease fire closed the inside of the restaurant.
In addition to her deep dedication to customer service, Pirnie also served as the store's unofficial historian, recording and tracking articles and news about the store and the locations where people visited from. To date, she has welcome people from every single state but one, and dozens of countries around the globe.
How does she do that? “By smiling lots,” she said. “I smile at them until they finally smile back at me. I like to see happy people. Life is better if you can be friendly. To have friends you must be friendly. I just love seeing people.”
The origin story of how Alice arrived at her McDonald's tenure is remarkable itself. She spent most of her professional career as a teacher in the neighboring rural school districts and assisted her husband running a nursing home.
Her connection is tied to the very land the restaurant sits on. Her late husband and brothers owned the property and sold it to the people who built McDonald's there.
Cory Hall, the owner, noted how special and welcome Pirnie makes people feel.
“It’s like you’re coming into her home,” he said.
So, if you happen to be driving through Broken Bow on a forthcoming journey, be sure to stop in and before she can ask where you're from, say hello to Alice. Just be to sure to time your visit around lunchtime on Tuesday or Thursday. Alice, who used to clock in for 30-hour weeks now spends at least two of her days working.
What Moms Can Teach Us About Customer Service?
We couldn't have discovered the story about Alice and her exceptional customer service at a better time.
Next week, we'll be discussing this very topic with best-selling author and CX expert, Jeanne Bliss. Her new book, "Would You Do That To Your Mother," explores how many of the most popular companies in the world have exemplified a "mom-first" approach, emboldening frontline employees to deliver exceptional customer service. And, it's just not about the frontline employees -- coaching and teaching managers and executives some of these maternal philosphies is crucial to building a brand that customers want to repeatedly visit.
When you read her book, you can quickly grasp how these lessons are transforming major American corporations. For years, PepsiCo's CEO, Indra Nooyi, personally writes letters to the parents of her top four hundred executives, describing how the values they instilled benefit PepsiCo. “Thank you for the gift of your child to our company.”
Isadore Sharp, CEO and Founder of The Four Seasons proclaims, “It is our work to give people ‘a sense of purpose and the courage to believe in themselves.”
Join Our Webinar
Jeanne Bliss will join us for a webinar next Wednesday (5/23) at 2:00 PM EST to explain how important maternal lessons can help positively shape your customer service and empower frontline employees.
You can register here. The webinar is free.
In this webinar, you'll learn:
- How to hire people who care
- The importance of empathy
- Dare to rethink what's been done
- Take the high road with radical transparency
Share your questions or comments and we may address them during our webinar. We hope to see you there!