New To Me?

Recently, I was going into one of my favorite coffee shops to take care of my coffee fix and get a bite to eat.  I walk in and get a smile and greet from the Barista.  Everything is going well.  I order my normal tall drink and my favorite bagel with cheese and roast beef (DELISH!).  The Barista offers me a Grande.  I decline.  I am trying to be more conscious of what I am eating.  Yea right!  I’m eating a bagel with roast beef, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese……… not quite the breakfast of champions.  Anyhow, my drink comes up and the Barista tells me he will bring my bagel to my table.  Thanks.

I walk over to my table, power on my laptop, and connect to their wifi.  Now I am up and running and ready to work.  Two to three minutes later the Barista delivers my bagel sandwich to the table.  As he sits it on the table, I notice that it is over cooked.  The bagel was basically burnt on the outside.  Now here is the “New To Me?” part.  I knew right away that it was unsatisfactory; however, for some reason I felt like I couldn’t take it back.  Why in the world would I feel this way?  This is one of the cafe’s I frequently patronize.  Some of the Baristas know me by my first name.  I felt like I had to eat it or throw it out without saying anything to the staff.  So I tried a bite of the sandwich.  It was too hard and the roast beef was rubbery.  The whole slice of roast beef came out of the sandwich because I couldn’t cut it with my teeth.  That is it!  I put it down on the plate and decided not to eat it.  At the same time I decided to do my work and finish my coffee and leave without saying anything.  After a few minutes I told myself that before I left I would tell the Barista and ask for a refund.  Then I thought, man I’m hungry!  I want to eat something.  I can’t work well on an empty stomach.  I have got to give them the opportunity to make this right.  I am a regular customer here; therefore, I have an obligation to my relationship to this cafe to let them know about the situation and give them the opportunity to make things right.  So I go over to the counter and tell the Barista that the sandwich is burnt and I would like a replacement.  No problem he says.  He will deliver it to my table.

Now here’s the lesson.  I am a regular customer at this establishment.  I have made a relationship with some of the employees by way of regular visits.  If I am somewhat reluctant to bring this issue to the employees and give them the opportunity to satisfy me, what will happen when a new customer comes in and has a similar experience?  Will they be upset and say nothing and never return?  Will they ask for a refund and storm out?  Will they eat the burnt sandwich and tell everyone they know never go there because the employees don’t know what they are doing?

At the end of the day, we must attempt to take care of our customers the first time we have the opportunity.  Some customers won’t say a word and they will never return.  Some customers will return with an idea of the service they will receive based on previous bad service.  And then you have people who may work in the service industry and will give you a second opportunity to take care of them.  You can never please all the customers all the time, but if you take the attitude that you are going to own the service or stand behind the goods 100%, you will take pride in what you do and you will therefore make a better product or give exceptional service because that is what you want to receive.

I Need to Recharge, NOW!

Last weekend my wife was in Atlanta visiting with her brother and stepmother.  That means I was left at home to take care of my 5 children.  Now don’t get me wrong I love my children but this helps set the scene.  It is Friday afternoon and I am picking the last three up from school in my wife’s van.  We pull up and park the van and shut off the engine.  I am sitting with my youngest and oldest in the car.  The baby is sleeping.  I am attempting to extract the events of my oldest daughters day at school.  Keep in mind she is 15 and completing her first year in high school.  So some of you probably know, she didn’t learn anything and can’t remember what she did in school today.  Typical.  So a few minutes pass and the rest of my children make it to the van and we are ready to go.

As the kids are all buckling up, I turn the key to start the car.  Nothing!  I try again, Nothing!  So I sit there for a moment and think.  After, a minute or two pass the children are now wondering why we are not moving yet.  So I tell them the battery is dead.  My children are so dramatic.  They start going crazy saying things like “We are never gonna get home!”, “Mommy is not here to come and get us.”  Really this hurt my feelings a little.  Don’t they know, I am the one who put 24/7 roadside service on our insurance plan.  Kids are unbelievable.  So I calmly called my insurance provider to get the roadside service on the way.  They inform me that I could wait up to an hour for the service to arrive. GREAT!

Now I remember, the last time I took my wife’s van in for some work they told me I would have to replace the battery soon.  I should have listened.  Anyway, during my time waiting I called around to about four places to see how much a battery would be.  One of the places I called is the regular place I go to get all my replacement parts.  Battery in stock $99.99.  That sounds about right but I called three other stores to see if I could find it cheaper.  I ended up finding it cheaper by $5 at another store.  I thought to myself, why go to a competitor of my regular store for a $5 discount.  Now I’m sure you know people who would jump ship and go to the competitor for a $5 discount.  I do too; however, I don’t understand that.  If I have a relationship with someone and they treat me well 90% of the time, I am not going to jump ship for a 5% discount.

I made up my mind and went to my regular store.  It was on my way home anyway.  The roadside service came in 15 minutes I was impressed.  The guy that gave me a jump was very pleasant.  He got my battery charged up and we were on our way.  I pull into the parking lot of my auto parts store.  I walk in the door and am greeted with a smile.  How are you doing today?  How can I help you?  I tell him what I need, he looks it up and he is off to get it.  We go over to the register and he is ringing me up.  He asks for my member card and of course, I don’t have it.  He proceeds to find me in the system.  As he is looking me up, I mention that one of his competitors had the same battery for five bucks cheaper.  He then said I will give you that $5 dollars off today.  GREAT!  Now that he has found my card he finds that I have $20 in credit on my account.  However, without a card I cannot use the credit.  He then explains that if I get a new card I can transfer the old credit to a new card if I tell customer service I lost my card.  GREAT!

So I call customer service and get my old account transferred to a new card and was able to use the $20 credit.  How awesome is that.  The Sales Associate gave me the price match without any proof, helped me save $20 by transferring my account to a new card, and installed the battery.  This is a great example of the Sales Associate going the extra mile for a customer because he was empowered by someone in his organization to take care of the customers and do the right thing.  I will never question where I should go for my auto parts needs.