Friday June 7, 2013

Great Customer Service

I enjoy reading Bob McIntosh's blog, "Things Career Related". Two days ago, Bob posted an article entitled "Want great customer service, go to Starbucks", in which he says:
Customer service is such a priority to me that I’ve abandoned a famous hamburger joint up the street from us because it takes forever to get served. I’ve also traveled miles out of my way to give my money to another branch of a large retail store because I’ve been treated rudely by some teenager whose main concern is texting his girlfriend.

Customer service weighs so heavily on my mind that my kids get sick of hearing me say, “That was great customer service,” or the opposite, which is more the case than the former these days. My kids also get embarrassed when I ask for the store’s manager so I can commend an associate who did his/her job the way it should be done.

As much as I hate poor customer service (maybe we’ve come to expect it), I feel much stronger about superior customer service. And thus, I feel Starbucks “is all that” when it comes to customer service.

I also dislike poor customer service (in person, on the phone, in email...) and I agreed that my experiences at Starbucks have typically been good. I commented on Bob's post:

I can order a “large Frappucino” or a “large single mocha” and they don't argue. They ring up a venti, but they don't argue. :-)

Otherwise, I hadn't really thought about Great customer service. My experiences have, routinely, been good primarily by virtue of having never been otherwise. I had no real standard of comparison.

Until today.

Today, I walked into our local Starbucks and placed an order for a large (:-) mocha and a large coffee Frappucino. When the cashier rang it up, I realized my wallet was in the car.

No problem. The cashier smiled, set the cups aside, and said "OK". I went out to the car, got my wallet, came back and paid. No argument. No hassle. No wasted time re-ringing the sale.

Great Customer Service.

In the meantime, another customer had purchased a bottle of juice (no coffee; nothing to make). He ("JuiceMan") had also brought in a stack of cards for some event, which he apparently wanted to place in the store. He was now talking to the Barisata; I heard her say "He'll be in tomorrow; he gets in at 9" (speaking of the manager, I presume).

But that wasn't enough for JuiceMan. He kept talking to the (ever polite) Barista, taking up her time, preventing her from starting the next drinks. My drinks.

I was getting... annoyed.

JuiceMan finally left, after giving one of his cards to the Barista. She began to make my drinks, called my name, handed me my mocha... and said:

"I'm sorry about that. I'm sorry you had to wait. Please take this card. Bring it back next time and exchange it for a free beverage of your choice."

And, just like that, I wasn't annoyed anymore. I was surprised and pleased. I said "Thank you." I was smiling when I said it.

Great Customer Service.

The Moral of Our Story:

  1. How do you short-circuit customer annoyance? Apologize. Not with the formulaic "we're sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused", but with an apology that rings true.

  2. Starbucks as a corporation makes the apology more effective by offering a "free drink" card. It's a low dollar cost for them, but a very real dollar cost to me.

  3. Starbucks gives the Baristas the power to decide when to hand out those cards. They have the power to turn an annoyed customer back into a happy customer, with no manager involvement required.

What's your Great Customer Service story?

Great Customer Service ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Fri, 07 Jun, 00:49 Pacific | «e»


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