2 Cream Cheese Customer Service Lessons

Brett Welch | BC - Monday, September 15, 2008
Friday is "Coffee and Bagel" day for me. A white toasted bagel with cream cheese to be exact. See, I figure after a working week it's nice to treat myself to an easy, simple and delicious breakfast, right?

I really look forward to that bagel and its creamy cream cheesy cheese goodness. It's sorta like a mini-christmas day on friday - it makes me get up a little earlier and walk to work with a spring in my step.

And so it was that I bounced down the hill and into my coffee shop (they have the best bagels in North Sydney), rolled up to the counter and stopped. I ordered.

The lady took my order cheerily, then turned to her colleague. "Hey, are we still out of cream cheese?"

My mind entered a state of panic. No cream cheese was almost a deal breaker for me. So I waited anxiously for an answer.

"Yeah we are. Would you like butter instead?" She happily asks me.

My brain snapped back: "No-i-don't-want-butter-butter-sucks-on-a-bagel-you-silly-person-i-want-cream-cheese!!!!" But those words didn't make it to my mouth.

"Ummm..." I replied. I'm sure I looked pretty upset. "Ummmmmmm...." I looked down and resigned myself to butter on my bagel. "Ok."

The counter lady continued to serve me, taking my change and passing my order along. I was distracted, wistfully thinking about how much better my day would be with some cream cheese in it.

Just as I took my change, she says "Hey, we're sorry about the cream cheese. Next time have a drink on us, ok?" She passes me a free drink voucher. Now while  this may be pretty standard, I was surprised and thanked her.

I was suddenly a lot happier. I still missed my cream cheese, and my Bagel wasn't quite as good. But a simple gesture like that turned me from a disgruntled customer into a happy one. And more importantly, I will go back there next friday, in the hope that they have cream cheese once more.

Two important things to note:
  1. She made the decision to give me that voucher herself.
  2. The gesture didn't give me cream cheese, but it did improve my mood.
Which makes me wonder: in your business are you:
  1. Giving your front-line team the power to make decisions that make a difference?
  2. Giving your customers something extra when you disappoint them?
And finally, the most important lesson: A token gesture and saying "sorry" really does get you a long way.

Sometimes, human beings are incredibly simple animals. When we're upset or angry, we're usually in our basest, simplest state. And that means that it only takes simple gestures to start making it just that little bit better.