Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Panda Express - More Than a Fast Food Restaurant

People usually say you can't expect much from a fast food restaurant. The food is generally okay and the service is fast, but impersonal. Obviously, as with anything under the sun, stereotypes are generalizations that do not work on everybody. I have been to Panda Express several times and I was impressed with their service every time I was there.

I am in love with their BBQ pork, a Cantonese dish from the Guangdong Province of China. It is oven-roasted and glazed with Chinese BBQ sauce. Being a Chinese myself, I have to say that this dish is particularly authentic and works well as an ingredient for fried rice or chow mien. I took a casual photo of the BBQ pork as shown below. During my last visit there, I asked for three portions of their BBQ pork for takeout. Their tray for this entree item was empty, but they said they would prepare them immediately. The friendly cashier offered me a free drink while I was waiting.

The pork came out hot and steamy, which was way better than having them sitting in the food tray for hours like those in the Chinese buffet restaurants. The staff who was cutting the meat made sure he gave me the correct portions by measuring them in a container before putting them in my takeout box.

At Panda Express, I see several important elements of customer service - care, anticipation, quality, and precision. I am sure many restaurants or stores have the same values, but not many of them actually are able to demonstrate them and have a resonance with the customers. This is definitely more than a fast food restaurant.

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