H is for… Handbag meme
A long time ago, @linsay1978 tagged me in the Handbag meme, the rules of which are:
* Put the Logo on your sidebar, or within a post.
* Pass the award onto 12 Bloggers.
* Link the nominees within your post.
* Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
* Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
So, what’s in my handbag?
I warn you, my handbag is a bit of a bottomless pit…. Mary Poppins has got nothing on me!
Medicines and make-up, all essential of course
The spoils from Starbucks…
Purse (including new york subway tickets, obviously) passport, bank books, nspcc sticker, 2 x external hard drives, keys, diary, phone, 4 different colour pens, home banking device and an umbrella
And, erm, everything else! I did throw some of this away after taking this photo – for which my bag is both grateful and lighter!
Now, to tag 12 other bloggers – ladies it is over to YOU!
Blimey O’reily my name has popped up in the MADs list!
I wonder if it was my rants about coffee and customer service?
My frustration over my son’s battle with eczema?
My honest account of my recovery after the breakdown of my marriage?
Maybe it was learning that Dermot O’leary used to lay on my desk?
My tale of a random act of kindness?
Maybe someone liked reading about my cats Elvis and Maisy?
I doubt it was my infinite playlist….
Whatever it was I am very grateful to Twitter and the blogging world because it is really fun to share experiences with people, I’ve been reduced to tears (both of sadness and laughter) from other peoples blogs and I know I don’t stand a hope of winning with my 7 posts, but it is still pretty cool to take part!
If you would like to vote for me – I’d be delighted! Just click here and then enter my blog name www.coffeecurls.wordpress.com into the areas where you’d like to nominate.
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE
Anyone who has kindly read C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero will know that I have recently expressed my views about the differing levels of customer service that I have experienced in Caffe Nero and Starbucks.
A million years ago when I used to work in customer service I was taught to invite feedback, whether positive or negative as then you get the opportunity to: ‘turn every complaint into a compliment’
For this reason, I feel strongly about bad service and if I ever experience it, then I do like to the let the company in question know. Equally if I feel that I have received exceptionally good service I also like to let the company know – it does a person good to know that they are appreciated.
So I wrote C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero as a way of acknowledging the great service I’d received at my local Caffe Nero. But then as I had made some less than complimentary comments about Starbucks I thought it only fair that I offer Starbucks the chance to see what I’d said.
I think it is true to say that I wasn’t really prepared for the events that followed!
After exchanging a couple of tweets, the Starbucks UK MD (nice American man called Darcy) rang me and said that he would arrange for the district manager to call me and arrange a meeting.
The meeting was set up for Tuesday 20th April and I duly went along to Starbucks, not really too sure what to expect.
OK – The Good Points
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously they took my concerns.
I was in Starbucks for about an hour and a half, which means that the district manager and the branch manager both gave up an hour and a half of their time just to speak to me.
I asked them all the questions that I had been given by the good people of twitter, they listened, made notes and answered them all.
They gave me a coffee at the start of the meeting (latte – with an extra shot of course) and about half way through a barista delivered a caffetiere with some different coffee in for us to ‘taste’. What was nice about that was that the branch manager had specifically selected the blend of coffee as it was one of their ‘bolder’ coffees because he had noted from my blog that I prefer strong coffee.
They were both very knowledgeable about Starbucks. After listening to the DM at length, I am also now very knowledgeable about Starbucks! The branch manager, in particular, came across as being genuinely concerned that he had an unhappy customer, which was quite touching.
They have a display of ‘local art’ on the wall, they see this as being of benefit to the community. I thought that was quite a nice touch.
And – The Bad Points
On Sunday 18th April I did a ‘secret squirrel’ visit to Starbucks with my family as I suddenly felt conscious that I hadn’t been in for a while and maybe it was lovely now…. However, we were served cold coffee, we weren’t offered any cutlery with our food, there was a broken plate on the floor and the staff were quite unattentive even though the place was very quiet. Also the upstairs was roped off, leaving only the downstairs tables and just one toilet available to customers.
I’m left a little confused as I felt a real sense of Starbucks being a ‘corporate’ enterprise and I wonder if that is why they are lacking the personal touch.
1. Myself and people from various different towns on twitter feel that Starbucks is lacking cleanliness, especially in it’s toilets. They made a note of that and said they would feed it back to HO.
2. Is there a problem with your wifi as people have mentioned that they’ve found it very frustrating to buy a coffee, then sit down with their laptop only to find they can’t connect. The district manager did admit that this was a problem that Starbucks were currently experiencing, he said they are currently changing their service provider which will hopefully alleviate the problem.
3. Why are your drinks sometimes cold? Apparently the ‘flat white’ is meant to be served at an immediately drinkable temperature – in one gulp.
4. I have had cold latte before – is that because your milk isn’t hot enough, if so, could there be a risk of bacteria? They said the only way that could happen would be if a barista had steamed some milk for one customer and then let it sit and used it again for a subsequent customer rather than steaming more milk. The branch manager said he would speak to his staff to make sure this wasn’t happening.
5. Why don’t you have a full range of merchandise in all stores.Apparently merchandise is only available in larger or newly renovated stores. The district manager told me that Starbucks merchandise is quite collectable.
6. Why don’t you offer a loyalty scheme – like the Caffe Nero buy 10 coffees get 1 free scheme. The DM said categorically that Starbucks would never do a scheme like that.I said I thought that was a little short sighted and that the reward card is very popular and I couldn’t believe that it didn’t lose them customers. He did say that it was potentially a problem for them in the London branches.I have to say I felt he spoke quite derisively of the Caffe Nero loyalty scheme which surprised me.
7. Will your ‘proudly brew’ concessions ever do frappuccinos? The DM said that Starbucks will very soon be bringing out a massively extended range of products across the board including ice creams, shots in a can and many take away items.
8. On behalf of @nudieprincess I asked why in the Brighton store they often serve a latte with half a cup of froth. The DM told me that a latte should have no more than a quarter inch of froth. The BM said that if you are served a latte with much more froth than that then you should return it to the counter as ask for a fresh one. They also said you need to ask for a ‘wet’ one if you want no froth.
I massively appreciate how much effort they took to listen to me. I am after all just one disgruntled customer in a sea of happy ones. When I left they gave me a couple of coffee samples from the Via range and a preloaded starbucks card (which I haven’t decided yet whether or not to use – I’m not sure if it would be hypocritical of me to use it?). This was nice of them but certainly not what I went there for.
What meant more to me was that the BM wrote down both his email address and mobile number and asked me to keep in touch. The DM asked me to ‘work with the BM’ and feedback after future visits to say whether I felt there had been improvements in the branch.
I went there thinking they would tolerate me, that they would listen for 10 mins, give me a coffee and then send me on my way. But they didn’t, and whether I like their coffee or not, whether I feel their branches could be cleaner or not, I cannot fault Mike and Carl for the way they handled my complaint and the fact that they both made me feel that they valued my opinion and had all the time in the world to listen.
I can’t say right now that I’m ready to ditch Caffe Nero, but I can say that Starbucks have an impressive reaction to customer complaints which is clearly led from the top – and the branch manager of my local Starbucks is a real asset to their company.
For example: cats; chocolate; cuddles; cakes; coffee and customer service. Not exclusively those but they spring to mind as favourites, as it goes I quite like crocuses, clouds, crusts and charisma too!
Two of my favourite things have led to my first blog (insert first blog sytle fan fare here…..) and they are coffee and customer service, two things that I happen to be quite passionate about.
I remember feeling quite exotic (yes, exotic) when a branch of Starbucks arrived in town! Had a few coffees in there, once you got over the odd aroma that I’m sure they pump into every Starbucks, it felt decadent, luxurious and almost naughty to go somewhere just for coffee.
But then, one day on the way to Starbucks I noticed a Caffe Nero sign! When had this snuck into town? Why hadn’t I known before? I had visited Caffe Nero in Lakeside (buy peanut & choc chip cookie from Millies, take to Nero’s and sneakily eat while drinking coffee = heaven) and had marveled at the depth and strength of their coffee – buy the wrong thing and the coffee was strong enough to make you nauseous….
And so began my love affair with Caffe Nero and the grande latte *sigh*. The staff were smiley, the air didn’t smell of strangely burnt plastic, the chairs were large and comfy, it was relaxing – it felt like home!
I began going there once a week, sometimes with BF, sometimes with DH and after a couple of weeks the lovely lady started remembering what I drank and would say those most flattering of words ‘your usual?’. I began looking forward to my chat with this smiley lady almost as much as my massive coffee and soon my coffee drinking became more like visiting friends. Even the grumpy (in a nice way) manager soon managed to remember my drink and once I’m sure I saw him smile.
I looked for a facebook page to join in support of my Caffe Nero, there wasn’t one so I set one up. Soon after the lovely lady added me as a friend – now she added ‘I love your wedding pics’ to ‘your usual?’ – ah personal service I love thee so!
There was a dark day, when out for lunch with friends and one of them insisted on Starbucks…. Suddenly I was back in the burnt plastic aroma, no smiles at the counter, tasteless coffee that you had to wait for ‘at the end’ – the drinks appearing in no discernible order making you feel both impatient and unimportant.
The sheer level of customer service that I (and indeed all their regular customers) receive at Caffe Nero was summed up for me recently when I visited the day after my birthday. My lovely lady has long since been promoted – she deserved it and the grumpy (in a nice way) manager was serving ‘did you have a nice birthday?’ he asked, followed by ‘did you do anything nice?’ and ‘these are on me today’. After at least 4 years in this town would anyone at Starbucks even know what I drink? “I think not baby puppy.” ( #Cats & Dogs – 2001 great film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0239395/ )
These two staff members, lovely lady and grumpy (in a nice way) manager could start a customer service revolution. You guys are great and I thank you for making me feel special just because I ordered a coffee – ok and the occasional almond croissant..
I read recently that in Japan there is now a coffee shop where you can rent a cat for half an hour to pet while you have your coffee – hmmmm I haven’t been to Japan, yet!
The UK MD of Starbucks has kindly offered for me to meet up with my local Starbucks District Manager to discuss company ethos – I have agreed and supplied my email address. Will let you know a) if a meeting happens and b) the outcome
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