You are thinking business card, right? I mean after reading that title?
Nope. I’m talking about giving someone my gift card, for coffee.
This week I almost ran out of a coffee shop to give a frustrated customer my giftcard for the place because they hadn’t been served well. The store’s mistake and I wanted to pay for it?
Of course, I didn’t. I had just put $20 on my card and I wasn’t that committed. But if it had been $10 or less, I would have.
You want more of the story I bet, why a customer cares enough to help a store out. Of course, if you don’t care, you can click somewhere else. And I’ll try to be brief.
Still here? Have some coffee.
I walked into a local branch of a major coffee chain this week. (I know I should apologize for that, since this is a blog about small businesses, but I won’t. You want to know how to get people like me to come to your place.) I meet with a friend in this store a couple times a month. Free wifi, free refills, not crowded, good service.
Except this morning.
As I was walking to my seat with my coffee (half-caf, black – I’m really cheap), I heard a worker say, “are you still waiting?”
A man sitting at a table answered: “Yes. I’ve watched seven other people get served.” He stood up. “I can’t wait any more. I’ve got to go.”
“Was that whole milk?” she said, suddenly working on his drink.
Walking to the door he said, “Never mind. I need to leave.”
The guy at the counter said to the other worker, “did he pay?”
“Yep, he was just waiting for his drink.”
As the man was at the door, the guy at the counter said, “we’ll make it right next time. Tell us and we’ll give a coupon and a free coffee.”
With that, the customer was gone. His walk suggested that he didn’t care about next time.
That’s when I wanted to run out the door and give the customer my card. I wanted to say, “They aren’t like that. They are always helpful. I have gotten free drinks here before. They are friendly and helpful and prompt and everything else employees are supposed to be.”
As I said, I didn’t want to give up $20 for that point. And, if I’m honest, I guess I was waiting for someone else to do that, someone who got paid to do that.
As I listened through the morning, I discovered that the counter guy only had three hours of sleep the night before because of a power outage. I discovered that the store may have had a power outage, too. I discovered that the morning had been hectic, that they were feeling frazzled, all of them. I knew that there were other stresses as well.
But the guy made it out the door without a drink that he had paid for and without immediate action to fix it. His next appointment will know the story. And the next one after that. And so do you.
A trip to the parking lot, an action rather than a promise, would have changed the story.
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Carl Natale says
It could have been worse. He would have needed a tow truck if tried this at a Dunkin Donuts.
Becky McCray says
Carl, that is unbelievably awful! I cannot even imagine!
symbolic atonement. if they had made it right with running after him and giving him 2 free coupons (one for the coffee he paid for and one for the coffee he would get for free)more often than not the man would have come back twice getting to see how good their service is. It also shows that they value their customers and people like to shop where their valued so he would probably come back making them more money in the end.
Mark Riffey says
In addition to that, find out where he’s going and bring him the coffee he wanted in the first place.
Bad days are no excuse. Stuff happens. 1 lost customer can cost you a year’s worth of that employee’s salary, or worse.
Becky McCray says
Philip and Mark, thanks for your added ideas. Sometimes going over the top is the best response.