A point of difference for good ol customer service and Starbucks

13 12 2007

(Disclaimer – I think Starbucks has done brilliant things with their marketing and advertising. How many other companies can you think of have changed our verbiage from “I’ll have a medium” to “I’ll have a tall” (or what they call small)?

A story  for you – (as you sip your tall, extra hot, no foam, sugar-free vanilla latte)

I have a Starbucks mug, given to me as a gift. It has a malfunction. The metal bottom has come loose due to faulty glue. This has happened twice. The first one was returned for the second one months ago.  I follow their directions, do not put it in the dishwasher and I dry it when it’s washed.

 Yesterday I walked into a Starbucks to exchange it and seeing the lineup was not moving, moved on to another one. 

At my second stop I was told that they could not accommodate me because I didn’t have a receipt and there was no SKU.  I explained it was a gift – and clearly from Starbucks (um, hello branding!). Nonetheless I was instructed to visit the Starbucks on the other side of the building.

Question One (to myself) Why can  they help me and you cannot? Aren’t you all affiliated? Possible answer – the barista didn’t want to deal with the hassle of my request. Fair enough. I moved on.

At my third Starbucks I was told, very nicely, that these particular mugs had been recalled as I could plainly read on a poster next to the terminal. However, they could not help me because (albeit confusing) they are owned the hotel that houses the shop.

Question Two (to myself) Why would Starbucks Two send me to Starbucks Three, in the same building, but owned by different components of the Starbucks name?

Starbucks Four – (directed to me by Starbucks three) could not help because as the barista explained he had been working at this Starbucks for 7 years and any return that needs to be made, regardless of the recall, must be handled through the Regional Office.

Question Three (directed to the experienced barista) Where is the regional office? Response – call head office in Seattle for directions, or look it up online.

Starbucks Five –  FINALLY someone who helps out! I am told no problem, he takes my old mug, shows me a traveler tumbler that stays warm for 3.5 hours (he timed it) and led me back to the till. Great! Because I was so thankful, I reached into my purse and gave him a Ripple Card (www.ripplecards.com) . He scoffed to his co-workers as I was leaving. And here I thought paying it forward was much more generous than cash.

The lesson – it was not Starbucks intention to have these baristas cast me off, even though I spent hundreds of dollars there each month. I believe the lesson is that big or small, the efforts of the individuals interacting with the consumer are what will create loyalty, spread some positive whispers and generate repeat business.

For ideas on how to inspire your staff and thus build your clientele, drop me a line. Personalizing every experience for the better is what I help my clients achieve every day.


Honey and the Money (Formerly Madisen) – A band worth checking out

30 11 2007

Honey and the Money

Last night I was lucky enough to attend Honey and the Money’s CD release party at the Media Club on Cambie, in Vancouver. Their lyrics are filled with emotion and their music catches your attention. This is a band that gives you shivers up your spine and at times will bring a tear to your eye.  

I urge everyone to check out their website www.honeyandthemoney.com and listen to the teasers from their new album, The Elephant in the Room. You’ll be hooked just like I was the first time I heard them.  Enjoy your listening – and maybe buy a couple of CD’s for Christmas stocking stuffers.  You can do it right from their website.

How to plan a successful client appreciation event for the holidays

20 11 2007

You may be thinking, it could be a little late in the year to start with an event, but really it isn’t. If you’re here living on the west coast of Canada, people don’t typically make their plans until, at most, a week prior to an activity. 

Make it simple 

Invite guests –Create a stunning postcard invitation and mail it to your guests. Take the time to follow it up with a phone call.  Running with the same theme, post these postcards at your business (washrooms, retail shelving, and point of sale) and have staff give them to customers.  

Have a reason to come –a special speaker, great wine, special promotions, door prizes, charity support. 

Have a ballot box and collect email addresses. Invite these guests back for next year’s event. 

Inspire your staff –have games and contests for invitations given out and sales of the day. Make sure to feed your staff before the event (especially if its on a night after work). Give them a list of their responsibilities (ie. Knowing the special promotions, what their role is for the event) the day before so they can prepare.  

Forget the caterer – host a wine and cheese afternoon. You can easily (and affordably) put a few cheese and cracker platters together or go to http://www.capersmarkets.com/ and order pre-made cheese trays.  

Source out local wineries and ask if they conduct on-site tastings for private gatherings. I just hosted a great event and used a local Langley winery – The Fort Wine Co.  They even provided plastic tasting glasses. Spend your advertising dollars on giving your guests something special.  It is the holidays so a little grab bag will be appreciated.