If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen this post:
Suffice it to say, coffee is very important to me. I drink it all day long.
But if, by some miracle, my former favorite Los Angeles based coffee shop (cough! Coffee Bean! cough! and Tea Leaf! Cough!) were to miraculously notice I’d stopped coming in, and if, by some miracle of miracles they also happened to run into me on the streets of LA and ask why I stopped patronizing them, I’d say “I’m glad you asked.”
I could go on and on. But people, this is not rocket science. I’m a pretty happy person, in general. It doesn’t take much to make or keep me happy. Hell, you could simply amuse me and it could be diversion or entertainment enough to keep me coming back for more (this facet of my personality is evidenced by the fact I devoted an entire Daily Mischief post to the childhood taunt “Nanny nanny boo boo“).
Of course, the basic stuff has to be in place:
1) You must have a product or service I want or need.
2) You must keep the quality or aspects I found desirable in that product or service up to par, or at minimum, make damn sure your customer (like me) is ready for or understands the changes that are coming.
And so, my friends, I only share this because, dammit, our country use to be known for not only providing, but in truly “being” the creme de la creme in customer service. Premiere industrialists, technologists and biochemists after that, the United States was unparalleled. It had no competition when it came to creating top products, and backing it up with the absolute best in services provided. In all things, the US set the standard for good follow-up customer service as well. PERIOD. So, here is the story of why I no longer go to said Coffee company’s store.
Number two above is hands down, unequivocally, the primary reason I left. They started jerking with the one and only real reason I still loved them… their flavored coffee. This, after they’d already taken away the other main reason I loved them – their “buy 10 cups, get one free card”. I decided the loss of that perk was not a deal breaker. I understood why people would use them fraudulently to get free coffee all the time. I didn’t blame them for protecting their business and bottom line.
But one day, a few years ago they simply stopped serving flavored coffee altogether, opting instead for chemically treated powders which supposedly “tasted” like the flavors they were known for. They assured me these were the same powders used to treat the coffee. I tried them. I concluded I didn’t like trying to figure out on my own how much powder should be included in each cup I drank, nor should I have to. Besides, they just tasted chemically treated. I didn’t care if they used them on the beans in the past, at least they didn’t have an after-taste. And what kind of strange, out-of-left-field cockamamy idea was this, anyway? So I wrote a scathing letter, admonishing said coffee company for not knowing its customer or what he/she wanted… I reamed them for at minimum, not consulting with them before making such a wide-sweeping change. Whatever happened to focus groups? And why weren’t people like me – daily customers for over ten years – consulted, or at least a part of those focus groups? I brought up the other issues I’d seen over the years and had allowed to slide, but this? This was unforgivable. I sent the letter to the president of the company, which was in turn handed over to someone who handled my complaint. A couple of weeks later, the coffee was back.
I was elated! Hurray! The process actually does work! Or so I thought.
Something else you must know, is this same company began some years ago limiting how long the flavored coffee would be served each day. Some stores stopped serving it at 10 AM, others 11, 12, 1PM. It was a crap shoot trying to figure out which store you could still get a cup of flavored Joe from. This was disconcerting, but I had my regular stops and their cutoff times down, so I was okay. Then it happened. I walked in at five minutes prior to cutoff, and was denied my coffee. They wouldn’t brew any more. I had rushed to get there after yoga, and was met with a flat denial. No apology, or “what can I do to make this better for you?” Nothing.
I left the store and promptly called to file a complaint. I was told this shouldn’t have happened and that every store was now under direct orders to brew more of it, even up until closing hours upon request.
I was told I’d receive a call from the district manager. It never happened.
I was told I could go in and physically request they brew some at any time. I tested this once, and it worked. Again, you would think that all was not lost here, right? Wrong.
I went back once more and was confronted by a flat, rude response of “No. We do not have to make you any. They don’t require it of us.” This, from the manager of the store.
I determined this coffee company had lost the privilege of my input. I no longer cast my pearls before swine, as the saying goes. And I’m loving Starbucks now more than I’d ever imagined. Who would have thought?
You and your business? You know I’ll be a loyal customer… just be sure to keep up the good work!
Love you people!!!! Mmmmppphhhuuuhhh!!!!
aka Lisa Jey Davis
Editor in [Mis]Chief
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Elyse Salpeter says
You really worked hard at trying to get them to keep your business. Trust me, there’s so many coffee shops out there you really can trip over them. Use this time to make a list and try ten new ones. You might be surprised… (I say this as I’m desperately hoping Starbucks brings back the Pumpkin Spiced Latte early as it’s only seasonal… sigh)
Ms. Cheevious says
Thanks Elyse – yes tried hard… done now. I have been fine with Starbucks. Not optimum… but it gets the job done! 🙂
James Prescott says
Have total respect for your perseverance & commitment with this – takes a lot of dedication to pursue these kind of things. I rarely complain because I think it will get me nowhere, but it looks like perseverance does pay off occasionally – well done you! And you’re absolutely right to expect high standards too. Interesting post!
Ms. Cheevious says
why thank you James! And thank you for the comment! LOL!! XOXO