Let me tell you a little story about seizing a sub-ideal moment in customer service and turning that into an opportunity.
I originally found Richies, a pizza (and stuff) place in Washington Square when I was moving to my current apartment. At the time, I was actually hoping to get my first taste of Publick House, but for whatever reason that magical place doesn't believe in opening its doors during daylight hours. Oh well. Anyhoo, desperate for sustenance (moving oodles of possessions up four flights of stairs does that to people), we meandered into Richies. The food did the job, and the staff was more than welcoming. When a Richies Groupon made its way into Gmail, I was happy to buy two, particularly as I had recently gone cold turkey in my battle with my Dominos addiction.
Fast-forward four months and one of my two Groupons later. Once again, I had no food in my fridge, and needed some dinner on a late Friday night. Unable to get through on the phone, I figured I'd place an order online. Unfortunately, it didn't look like I'd be able to use the Groupon online (weird, given it's an online coupon, but whatever), so I resigned myself for paying full price for my pizza. After entering my credit card information, a confirmation screen told me I'd get my order in 60-70 minutes. A bit excruciating, but I knew I'd manage.
Fast-forward two hours - and no pizza - later. Cranky and hungry, I went to bed, figuring that the website flubbed and my card wasn't actually charged. It was. A bit crankier, I called Richies tonight to see about remedying the situation. And remedied it was!
I quickly (and politely - always try to be polite!) explained my dilemma. Moments later, not only did Richies promise to refund my card, but when I asked if I could just get my pizza a few days late, i.e., today, they told me "Sure, definitely." Oh, and it would still be free.
How great is that? No back-talk, an explanation* accompanied by genuine humility, and a speedy recovery. Had this exchange gone less pleasantly, I probably would have contacted Groupon and asked for a refund on my second (unused) coupon. Instead, I've been reminded of the great customer service at Richies, and even after I've used my final Groupon, I'll definitely be calling them back.
*As it turned out, Richies closed early that night, but the website was still operating up until the usual closing time. The restaurant is working on syncing that all up.
1632 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446
Totally Unrelated Shameless Plug
This Thursday, I'll be interviewing the one and only @BostonTweet for RaceTalk, my agency's blog. I've got a few questions for him, and I'm sure you do, too. So between now and then, tweet your questions for him using the hashtag #askbostontweet. Thanks!
For those of you know know me, I don't have to explain how white I am. For those of you who don't . . .
I'm really white. My 25% Italian heritage must be recessive, because you really wouldn't believe me by looking at me - and it's Sicilian, by the way.
Anyhoo, back in the day, I fancied myself a competitive ballroom dancer. In consideration of the judges (and everyone else who may be in attendance at competitions), it's common practise for the particularly pasty to tan prior to competition. Seeing as I didn't want to die wrinkly and early before my fiftieth birthday, I looked to fake-tanning methods. I also looked for deals, because that stuff ain't cheap.
Cut to December 2009. I had stopped dancing competitively, but was still telling myself I'd get back into it (who am I kidding . . . I still tell myself I'll get back into it). Groupon had a deal for a custom airbrush at Perfect Tan. I had actually known someone who had gotten an airbrush from there and it had looked fantastic, so I threw caution to the wind and bought the coupon.
Fast-forward to December 2010. My Groupon was only redeemable for another few days and - surprise, surprise - I hadn't gotten back into competitive dancing. Too stubborn to let the money go to waste, I figured I would go to Perfect Tan and get the lightest setting possible. That way I'd just look sun-kissed.
Never having been to this salon or having had a custom airbrush before (my previous Oompa Loompa phases have been a direct result of lotions and sprays), I was admittedly a little nervous, but I was in luck. The entire salon was very well-kept, and the woman behind the desk (who also administered my airbrush), Macall, was very sweet. She somehow managed to take the awkwardness out of the procedure (in case you're wondering, getting a custom airbrush tan is one of your more vulnerable moments).
Too bad I'm a few ounces of pigment shy of being albino and will just never look good with a fake tan. Once again, I ended up looking pretty unnatural, but I think it's just because I don't have the right skin type. If you are not one sporting that alabaster glow, then definitely go check out Perfect Tan. However, if you're like me (or just a redhead), stop trying to kid yourself. We're never going to look good with that idolized beach glow.
Teenage Dream, Katy Perry
Starting the incredibly gradual transition to BrittanyFalconer.com. Part of that transition includes a change in name for the blog, which used to be known as "And Here We Have My Musings" (or perhaps in your minds, "Brittany's Blog"). Say hello to "bmfalc: Beyond 140." The hope is to focus a bit more on social media, PR and other profession-related material - flavoured with all that other stuff I yammer on about.
Other things to look out for include new categories and eventually a new layout. I'll keep you all posted.
You're right: it doesn't really seem like a "yes or no" situation. Hear me out, though. When I worked at Starbucks, every now and then we'd have district-wide meetings to discuss seasonal changes, company updates and the 200th or so reminder that we were not competing with Dunkin' Donuts. This is always something that has baffled me to a degree: for instance, in spring 2008, the company launched Pike Place Roast (after we were reminded that Dunks was not a competitor). My first thought? "This is the closest thing we have to Dunkin' Donuts."
Over time, I've come to the conclusion that while Starbucks may have claimed that it wasn't competing with Dunky D, it ultimately comes to how it's perceived by the consumers. And for the most part, consumers place the two brands in competition with one another. Although, now I think I also see where the 'Bucks is coming from. The two brands are so distinctly different when it comes to coffee: a Starbucks drinker thinks Dunks is too weak, and a Dunkin' Donuts drinker considers the 'Bucks too strong. Sure, Starbucks is pricier, but I'll cough up the cash for my iced coffee given the option between the two because I just prefer a stronger coffee.
Now, that all said, I don't know what's going on behind the corporate doors of the mighty Dunkin' Donuts. Given their latest branding campaign in Mass., I would guess that they're pitting themselves against Starbucks, but given that I never worked there, I wouldn't know.
What do you think? Is Dunkin' Donuts turning up the heat on Starbucks? If so, what are they accomplishing by appearing as the Starbucks doppelganger?
There is a fair number of establishments in Boston with good, even great bar staff, but there's a reason why I keep defaulting to Boylston St.'s Atlantic Fish Co. - aside from the great atmosphere, wine and craft beer options and delicious seafood (perhaps I shouldn't be blogging about this before I've eaten lunch...): it has a fantastic bar staff.
"Brittany, what are you talking about? What makes a 'fantastic' bar staff?"
I am so glad you asked, dear reader, mostly because it gives me a reason to bother writing the rest of this post. I didn't write the book on bar staff quality experiences, but as far as I'm concerned, good and great bartenders will be attentive, recognise regulars, look up recipes for the cocktails they don't know off-hand, and so on. They create an experience that will leave patrons thinking, "That was a nice drink/ meal." They meet expectations. A fantastic bar staff will exceed those expectations to the point of surprise. I've made a few observations at the Fish that I think are certainly worth sharing with folks who haven't stopped by, yet.
I don't think I've ever seen patrons sit at the bar and sit for more than two minutes, even on busy nights, before someone has greeted them, asked them how they are, and what they would like to drink. Oftentimes the bartender will immediately introduce him or herself as well, and if not immediately, then definitely within the next interaction or so. I have been to other, pricier bars and have seen patrons sit at the bar unattended for what seems like forever (although it's probably only a little over five minutes) before being asked what they would like to drink.
There is no alienation between bar staff and patrons. While I try not to interrupt conversations between bartenders and a different party, I never feel uncomfortable asking a question (or in my case particularly, harassing someone behind the bar), nor do I ever feel like I'm taxing the bar staff with a request. Having worked in food service and retail (and currently in public relations), I subscribe to the belief that customers should not ever feel like they have to struggle to communicate with whomever is supposed to be taking care of them. I've been to multiple restaurants where trying to get the attention of my server seemed impossible - and I'm not even a difficult customer (at least, I don't think so . . .).
This next one is example-worthy: if you have a craving, the nice folks at Atlantic will go above and beyond to sate that craving. About a week ago, Adam and I went to Atlantic for a glass (or more) of wine. I was a little hungry, but wasn't really in the mood for seafood. To be honest, all I really wanted was some cheese to go with my wine, but I wasn't going to make any noises about it, given that my girlish figure didn't need that much deliciousness anyway. Our bartender, Jeff came over to check in on us and Adam shared my hankering of the moment with him. While I tried to protest, Jeff picked up the phone, called the kitchen and asked for a side of Parmesan cheese. A minute or so later, I had a lovely scene (look right, please) in front of me.
I would have been happy with the cheese. Truly. Atlantic had to go a step further, though. Joe, the bar manager was also working that evening. He took one look at the cheese and said something to the effect of "This simply will not do." The next thing I knew, I had a dish of oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and of course cheese to go with my bowl of carbs. Did Jeff or Joe have to go out of their way to help rid me of my cheese craving? Good heavens, no. They did, though. I have also seen the staff order cake from their sister restaurant, Abe & Louie's, next-door because a customer was pining for it (they may or may not have done it for me as well one one occasion - honestly, it's amazing that I'm not obese by now).
Maybe I'm an easy critic because it doesn't take much to impress me when it comes to customer service, but on the same side of that coin, it blows my mind when I have a poor experience, knowing how simple it is to even provide the bare minimum of care for a patron: being polite and attentive, and taking whatever measures necessary to ensure an enjoyable dining experience. If you stick to that, I'd say that at least 90% of customers would be content. If you really want to blow them away, though, take a page out of Atlantic Fish Co.'s book.
"Layla," Eric Clapton
"Waiting for My Real Life to Begin," Colin Hay