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Anna Papachristos | March 27, 2013

Chili's Serves Up a Lesson in Customer Care

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chili-large-logo.jpgPerhaps I'm addicted to the chips and salsa. Or maybe it's the friendly service. Either way, Chili's Grill & Bar never fails to satisfy (in my opinion). But, for one young Utah girl and her family, Chili's went above and beyond to make sure their needs were met with the utmost compassion.

Earlier this week, the story of Arianna, a 7-year-old girl with autism spectrum disorder, went viral when her sister posted a picture (below) of the young child kissing her cheeseburger to the Chili's Grill & Bar Facebook page. The image, which included this family's heartwarming story, explains how Arianna's server flawlessly saved the day. You see, for children at all levels of autism spectrum disorder, even the slightest misstep can alter the tone of the entire day. But, when Arianna's cheeseburger arrived at the table "broken," her server, Lauren, handled the situation conscientiously and deliberately.

When Arianna, her sister, and her sister's husband took their seats, Arianna excitedly ordered her favorite meal: a cheeseburger with pickles, French fries, and chocolate milk. However, once the food came, Arianna's sister noticed that the child would only touch her fries, not the burger. As it turns out, Chili's purposely cuts all children's burgers in half to be sure the meat is fully cooked, but in Arianna's mind, she only saw a "broken" burger. Her sister explained the issue, asking Lauren to bring another cheeseburger, as they promised to pay. Lauren then took a moment to speak to Arianna, explain the situation, and assure her that another cheeseburger was on its way. Lauren shared the story with her manager to rationalize the second burger, prompting him to also visit Arianna's table and apologize for the "broken" cheeseburger. By the time Lauren emerged with the "fixed" burger, Arianna was busting at the seams with gratitude. She kissed her cheeseburger repeatedly in appreciation.

Though this may seem like a relatively small gesture to some, for Arianna's family, these actions set the tone for the rest of their day. For many families of special needs children, disruptive behaviors can often ruin such outings. But, when met with such empathy, concern, and understanding, Chili's was able to lighten their load and put a smile on the face of a young girl who, in turn, put a smile on theirs. The staff proved how meaningful it can be to focus on the individual customer and how positive reactions can result in positive experiences. Lauren did not set out to because a nightly news sound bite--she did so out of her genuine desire to make her customers happy. And, as we can clearly see, she did just that:

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(Image courtesy of the Chili's Grill & Bar Facebook page.)

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