The Great State of Cabana

Chili_Man_w-Logo_biggerAs I have done from time to time on this blog, I recount customer service experiences (good or bad) to highlight companies that either get it or don’t. This time, it is Taco Cabana (a place I have enjoyed for close to 20 years now – OK, now I feel a bit older). This particular location was in Frisco, TX.

Craving TC’s queso (it is real cheese, unlike others who are less than cheese), we drove thru last night to pick up some dinner to take home. We placed our order and were given a large single bag of multiple items. I never seem to learn to check my order at the window and usually face the consequences. We get home and the one thing missing from the order is the bowl of 8 oz. queso. I figured “oh well” and called the number on the receipt to just ask them to refund me the amount for the missing item and avoid driving all the way back over there. However, noone answered the phone. At that point, I decided I might as well go back and get the queso and ask for a discount for the trouble.

When I get there, the assistant manager was receptive to fulfilling the order, but confounded me when I suggested it would have saved us both a hassle had someone just answered the phone. He responded by saying “we don’t answer the phone between 6-8. We need to focus on the customers”. Not really the answer I expected – I was a customer and my order apparently did not get the “focus”. So, I saw this as two negatives – not handling the initial order correctly and not answering the phone to help a customer.

Luckily the manager was there and she quickly suggested not only fulfilling the order correctly, but also providing a full refund for the order. I did not expect the latter (a “nice to have” would have been a refund for the item and then a complimentary order of queso). Therefore, Taco Cabana went above and beyond and has now successfully retained me as a customer. This ended up being a bad initial experience with a good ending.

Sprint Stores Get Customer Service

For four years, we have used Sprint for our cellular phone service.  Nothing extraordinary about the service that has made us stay, but it was easy to renew the last time and it seemed this time would be easy as well.

Sprint Cell Phones

Sprint Cell Phones

Last month I received a retention offer to get a $50 credit to sign up for another two years.  That was much less than the 10% off per month that was offered last time.  So I asked for a renewal with the 10% off offer again.  The “retention representative” on the phone said that the offer was not available.  Because of that I said that I would be looking around at other carriers.

The next day, in the mail, I received a 10% off offer from Sprint (that supposedly was not available).  This was 12/15/08.  I called the number on the offer, waded through the littany of prompts, waited on hold for five more minutes, then got a message that said the office was closed for the holidays from 11/28 – 12/1.  OK!!  I waited a few more days and tried again – same result.  I tried by phone one more time on 12/29 – same result. 

This was obviously going nowhere.  I went to my local Sprint store.  There I met Brian Paige – Assistant Store Manager.  Despite the constraints of how Sprints retention programs work, Brian was amazing in how he worked to get the deal done.  He admitted that we needed to call someone in Sprint Retention because of certain rules, but he made the call on my behalf and let the representative know of my issues.  She (didn’t get a name) was not helpful at all.  She refused to provide the 10% off offer unless I faxed her the offer to prove I really had it (while I am in a Sprint store – hmmmm).  Finally Brian did what a smart and responsive “customer service” person should do – he went outside the box and made the deal happen.  The specifics of the work around are not important.  What is important is that Brian retained me as a customer – not because it was easy like last time but because he invested his time for Sprint to keep a customer.

I have heard that customer service will die in the next few years.  I just hope that there are more Brian Paiges out there to help keep it alive.

Funny Customer Service Item

I have a colleague at work that brought an interesting customer service point to my attention today.  Now I am not saying that I have ever provided perfect customer service all the time, so I am merely pointing this out for reference sake.

 My colleague ordered an item from Hi-Style via the Amazon website.  The company sent the wrong item – trust me, it happens.  Rather than go through a big hassle of returning the “similar, but wrong” item, she kept it.  When prompted for feedback by the company, she provided a review that included exactly what happened.

The company is now hounding my colleague because she will not remove her assessment (true and valid assessment).  They think that because she did not want to go through a hassle of returning the item that their service is compete and satisfactory.

I completely side with my colleague that she should stick with her assessment.  Plus, she has also been a star customer service representative with our company, so she knows the score.

Hi-Style should accept the assessment, learn from it, and move on.  After all, had it been handled correctly the first time I know a stellar assessment would have been made.

Believe me when I say that I take this point to heart for future service that I and my company will provide.