Entries tagged with “Customer Service”.

I do remember enough of my college statistics courses to know that using Twitter to evaluate trends and attitudes introduces significant sampling and reporting bias.   Still, ignoring the obvious data quality issues, I do enjoy reading through my TwitterFall feed every week. Because of my interest in application availability requirements, which drives the business of StorMagic, on whose board I serve as an independent director, I typically set the search terms to “computers” and “down,” but when “She shuts it down like computers” is trending, I’ll switch to searching on “computers” and “free.”

This is just a sampling of the “computers” and “free” tweets I saw this week. Apparently, for the patrons of some quick-serve restaurants, when computers go down, #lifeisgood.


AbbeyVoss just got a free coffee and biscuit at Caribou cause their computers are down #lifeisgood

lilseannn Public Service Announcement : Taco Bells computers are down; free TB!

r0danthony Computers shut down in the cafeteria. Your boy got a free meal. Lololol.


I’ve noticed over the course of the past two years, that Starbucks typically offers up free food and coffee when the computers go down, as captured in this tweet last week.

‏@NDarnell96  Getting free Starbucks cause their computers froze


My guess is that Starbucks gives away coffee when the computers go down, because it’s cheap marketing, and they assume the cost of delivering high-availability applications is too high. Coffee brewers basically turn water to gold, anyway. And if you’ve got as many gold buyers as Starbucks, what’s wrong with an occasional free giveaway when customers are willing to provide free advertising? I’ve never been able to verify this, so if anyone can validate the assumption, please let me know. If that’s the approach, at Starbucks, I get it. But it appears someone wasn’t on the program last week, as I also saw this tweet:

@Spencer_Westley@Starbucks‘ computers are down and WHAT IS LIFE?


This “give it away when the computers are down” approach works fine at quick-serve restaurants, when you only need computers to take payments, but it gets much more challenging if you need the computers to get the orders from the front counter to the kitchen, to apply loyalty credits, to recall the frequently ordered items on the automated order entry system, to actually make the food, to know when to plate the food, or when you take orders over the web, but fulfill them in the restaurant. These days, companies drive efficiency from automated operations and new revenue sources from processes that are dependent upon computers.  They also are driving the perception of customer intimacy by knowing more about their customers’ likes, dislikes, and preferences. Computers matter, not when you’re selling any cup of coffee to the next person in line, but when you are selling this particular, customized cup of coffee to that loyal customer.

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of a start up knowing the percentage of customers that would recommend their product or their company. There’s actually a name for this metric. It’s called the Net Promoter Score or NPS. Here’s an article that provides a way to calculate your NPS.  In order to have a high NPS, you need more than the right product. You need the right customer experience.

I’m always a little shocked by companies that see unhappy customers and fail to take immediate action. My wife recently took her car into the local dealership for routine service.  Between a post-doctoral fellowship, an active private practice, and several non-profit board seats, she’s very busy. So she wanted to know how long the service would take. The answer was, “No more than an hour.” After a two and a half hour wait for her service to  be completed, she was obviously steaming. She complained to the service manager, who apologized and then sent her on her way.

When the post-service customer satisfaction survey call came, she gave candid answers. She was not satisfied. Less than 24 hours later, she received a call from the service manager apologizing profusely, telling her to call him directly, the next time she had her car serviced. He then offered her a complimentary car detailing service along with a polite recommendation that she wait until the winter season was done, in order to get the maximum benefit from the detailing. The coupon for the free detailing arrived the next day in the mail. My wife was somewhat calmed by the gesture, but still doesn’t mind repeating the story of the dealership’s poor service.

Now, imagine how different her reaction might have been, had the service manager, to whom she expressed her dissatisfaction before she left the dealership, had then offered her a discount, or a free detailing service. Her anger would probably have been assuaged immediately. What if it didn’t require the service manager’s involvement at all, but the clerk at the service desk had been empowered and taken the initiative to make things right? What if the dealership’s response had been as it was for me at a local restaurant, when the waitress offered my meal for free, because I had to wait too long to be served. Rather than a detractor, I became a promoter, for her willingness to proactively do the right thing.