September 23rd, 2009

A Little Change Can Do You Great

As I’m writing this I am feeling more than a little annoyed by the fact that a service provider, one that I’ve been a customer of for more than 12 years, has failed me on several accounts today: bad customer service, amount of red tape I had to go through to get my problem heard and their general lack of flexibility.

When I was working in my previous job at a company situated in a glitzy part of town, I had my own secret coffee haunt. The unassuming shop was tucked away in a little side street quite a distance from the main road. You really have to know your way to get there. But it was so worth the walk.

The coffee came in a large cup and it was dirt cheap. And good. Very good. To this day, no other cup of coffee has come close to being as good as the one I got from that shop. To top it all off, the service was excellent. Within a few weeks of frequenting the joint, the lady taking my order knew exactly what I wanted. She would also personally hand the freshly-made coffee to her customers herself (as opposed to leaving it on the counter).

In my previous post I talked about how the coffee shop I currently patronize — part of a larger, efficiently-run establishment — has finally acknowledged me as a worthy customer but only after 6 long years. I can’t complain about the coffee served at this place. Though the price could be better the shop is oh-so-conveniently located, so there’s no strong reason for me to find an alternative. The person who regularly serves me is friendly, but she just did not think about going the extra mile until recently.

These two coffee shops illustrate the differences between a small business fueled by passion and sometimes necessity and the less-personal, protocol-orientated nature of larger corporations.

I am not a very demanding customer. All factors considered — convenience, price, product quality, service quality– I’m happy to settle for just 2 out of 4, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I got The Nod yesterday.

It takes just a little extra to go from good to great. But unfortunately this simple concept is usually lost in between promises of “customers first” and the compulsive act of ”watching the bottomline”.

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