The Taste of Chicago……….tastes so good!(#1 in series)

Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending some time in one of the best cities in the world.  CHICAGO!  My Mother, Stepfather, and Sister lived in a suburb of Chicago for years and I have spent plenty of time there.  Also my sister did her undergrad at Northwestern.  Too bad for her.  I went to Michigan State University.  Home of the mighty Spartans.  I should stay on the subject.

The Taste of Chicago gives the public a chance to sample foods made by some of the many great restaurants in the greater Chicago area.  For those of you which are unfamiliar with Chicago, one of the reasons people love the city is because of the plethora of amazing eateries that are exclusive to the city.  Now keep in mind, I love to eat.  Whenever I spend time in Chicago, I come home at least 10lbs heavier.  This trip was no different.

During my time in Chicago I had many encounters as a customer.  During my next few blogs I will cover my trip in detail.  I will focus one post on my hotel accommodations.  This one is a total surprise to me and may surprise you because I will break one of the first rules I have imposed on myself as it pertains to my blogging.  When I sat down and decided to blog about customer service, I agreed to never mention the companies I was blogging about.  Have to break that rule.

Also, I will tell you about the restaurants I had the pleasure of visiting.  And here is a shocker, the four star restaurant had the worst service and the one star had the best service.  There were also a few in between.

Loads of great stories that I braved through so you wouldn’t have to.  STAY TUNED.

Today I was headed over to my closest cafe to get my regular favorite drink.  I happened to get behind a memorial processional.  People were speeding past the processional and cutting them off.  This experience took me back in time.  Let me explain.  Two years ago my wife lost both her maternal and paternal grandmother in less than a month time span.  They both lived in the same city in Mississippi.  Now when we spend time down there, I always noticed that people were very nice and always said hello.  They took the time to “smell the roses” if you will.  My wife’s maternal grandmother was very well-known in the community.  Along with that, she had 10 children.  To give her a proper memorial, the City had policeman all along the route to the memorial.  Also, they were able to secure one of the larger churches in the City.

The memorial was beautiful.  Countless people had many warm memories of Miss Nancy.  I only had the pleasure of spending time with Miss Nancy on two occasions.  This is going to sound horrible but I am going to tell you because I am more often than not, a transparent person.  Both times I spent with Miss Nancy were times when other family members had passed and we went to Mississippi for their memorial service.  Most recently, Grandma Smith had passed a month before Miss Nancy.  The time we spent was wonderful and warm.  We didn’t have a whole lot of history but she treated me like one of her own grandchildren.  I will forever feel grateful that I had the opportunity to spend time with Miss Nancy in her final days.  The main thing is that she was very happy, and never really had any regrets.

Now here is the main point of my story.  As the processional was leaving the church I was really astounded and touched at what I saw.  Traffic everywhere stopped.  Now keep in mind this was a long processional.  These people waiting were going to be waiting for a considerably long time.  One man In particular was on his daily jog.  Traffic was stopped all over the place so as a jogger he had Card Blanche.  He could have continued his jog without interruption; however, he stopped his jog, removed his hat, stood still on the side of the road with his hat in his right hand covering his heart.

I was totally blown away.  In all my years I had never seen anything like that.  I had heard of it happening but never saw it in action.  This was done out of respect of, by all accounts, a total stranger.  The people who were inconvenienced by this processional stopped and gave respect to the memorial of the deceased.  The reason is because it was the right thing to do.

Here is the really crazy thing.  I really was touched today by Miss Nancy’s memorial again today.  Where is the connection?  When I sat down to write this there was no connection.  I just wanted to blog about my experience today; however, about the third paragraph the connection emerged.  During the memorial, total strangers showed respect to someone they may have never met because it was the right thing to do.

 Every time a new customer emerges, you have the opportunity to show them respect and give them personal service.  The whole idea of making a great customer experience is to create a relationship with the customer that will last many years.  Don’t just rush through your pitch like you being made to wait is an inconvenience. Take the time to make the experience about them.   At the end of the day it is about the customer’s experience and not the rest of your day.

Coffee run. Who’s in?………We Love It!

My  wife and I are certified coffee-house junkies.  The other day two of my children and I went out for a caramel cappuccino for myself and hot cocoa for my wife and children.  We came in and were immediately greeted with a smile and a how are you doing.  My children had gift cards so they had to order separately.  You know how kids want to feel grown-up and handle their business without your help.  I was paying for everything else.  So I ordered for my other children, my wife and myself.  The Barista scanned my frequency card.  My next drink is FREE!  Awesome!  I happily proceeded to the end of the counter where I will pick up my finished delicious caramel cappuccino.  As our drinks came up, the Barista repeated what she prepared.  Two short magic milks(hot cocoa), a grande caramel cappuccino(yummy), and a double grande magic milk?  So I asked whats the difference between the regular magic milk and the double grande magic milk?  You guessed it ESPRESSO.

You haven’t lived until you’ve had a delicious cappuccino.

So I told her, I need that grande magic milk without ESPRESSO.  If I take that home, my wife will kill me, she hates espresso.  The Barista smiled said definitely and whipped up a fresh grande magic milk.  She then thanked us for our business, bid us a great day and we were off to enjoy our drinks.

Somewhere during this transaction there was a miscommunication.  It may have been an error on my part or it may have been an error on the part of the Barista.  Either way, the Barista didn’t show any frustration and she didn’t get an attitude with me.  She took what was a potentially a customer service challenge and turned it into a customer service success story.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Apple Cider……

Last fall my family and I went out to a very popular cider mill for fresh apple cider and donuts.  We’ve made this trip a few times and the kids love the experience.  During this trip it just so happened to be one of the best Saturday’s (weather wise) in the history of Michigan fall Saturdays.  It was 80 degrees a little cloudy with a cool fall breeze.  The cider mill was jam packed.  Normally you can go into the mill and watch the cider and donuts being made fresh.  Today the line was out the door.  It was so packed they opened up a separate building and there was an equally long line to get cider and donuts. CRAZY BUSY!  Since both lines were long I got into the secondary line because 75% of the line was out doors and it was a beautiful day.  So about 20 minutes into the wait, I’ve made it probably 3/4ths of the way to the front.  It’s about 30 minutes before the secondary line is closing and the line is just as long as it was when I got in it.  So right about this time a young lady who is working behind the counter comes out to make an announcement.  She says, “We are just about out of gallons and half gallons of Cider.  We have 6 more gallons and about 20 more half gallons.  Once we run out here, you will have to go to the main mill to get your cider.  It doesn’t make sense to bring more down here because we would have to take it back to the mill when we close.  We have plenty of donuts”

I want some fresh cider.

Really?

Mind you, the line at the main mill was just as long.  So the people that couldn’t get their cider from the secondary line would now have to get in the line at the main mill which will now add 30 – 45 more minutes to their wait.  By this time I was in the front of the line and would be one of the lucky ones to get my cider and donuts here.  If I was in the back of the line and had already waited for 30+ minutes, I would definitely take my business elsewhere.

In this situation, the employee made it seem like she was tired and ready to go home.  So instead of her and her team taking care of the remaining people currently in line, she is forcing them to wait longer so she can work less.  This is horrible customer service.