June 29, 2009

It really does pay to be nice sometimes!

It's interesting to me how much America has changed in the past 60 years or so with regard to customer service and manners. Once upon a time, waiters truly cared about your order and getting it correct and to you in a timely manner, because going out for a dinner was a special occasion for a couple or families and they honored that. If you had a problem with a business or service and made a complaint, it really meant something because business owners truly cared whether or not they retained your business.

Then customer service became a relic, unless you were truly shopping/dining in an establishment of higher echelon. Businesses grew and with that growth came anonymity and with that anonymity came the ability to write a customer off, because hey - someone else will fill the void.

Lately, however, I think that the economy has seen a little shift to the old ways, where businesses now need their customers because people are opting to shop less, eat out less, consume less to make sure their families remain financially sound. And due to this shift, I began to feel like it was well within my rights as a customer to point out when businesses fail to meet my expectations so that they can either A) Strive to make the experience better and win my future visit (which happened with both Ruby Tuesday and Steak-n-Shake) or B)Ignore my complaints and lose my business (as has happened with both Arby's and Jack in the Box - seriously, guys, don't have an email client on your site for people to use to let you know about service issues and then ignore repeated attempts to get some sort of non-automated response!)

To be fair, though, I also feel like when businesses do a good job, they deserve to know and receive the praise they've earned. I love to get gracious emails in return from company's when I've praised them, because it makes me hope that they strive to continue that great service from now on.

But every once in awhile, I get a little surprise. Such was the case when I recently sent an email to Blue Diamond Almond growers. After realizing that my daughter shares her daddy's lactose sensitivities, I mourned the fact that I could no longer drink milk like it was going out of style until I was finished breastfeeding. All I could see was a long, lonely 8 months ahead of me. I have thyroid issues and am discouraged from overdoing it with the soy products, so I knew my choices were pretty much rice milk or almond milk, neither of which seemed very appealing on my morning cereal. After receiving a coupon at the Metropolitan Cooking Show for a free half gallon of Almond Breeze Almond Milk, I decided to try it first and see how awful it was before I paid for any rice milk to test.

Well, to my surprise, the almond milk was super tasty. It doesn't taste like milk, but it didn't taste like "white nasty" as I had imagined it would. As a matter of fact, I don't notice much difference at all on my cereal. Now, I'm not ready to pour a big glass of it to have with a slice of chocolate cake yet, but it's growing on me. And I've purchased several cartons since that first one and even tried the chocolate flavor (oh my - I like it better than chocolate milk, really!)

I figured that Blue Diamond deserved to know how pleasantly surprised I was to find a milk alternative in their product and how grateful I was to have such a tasty option for the next 7-8 months. I was not surprised when I received their "thank-you" email, but what DID surprise me was that they wanted to thank me for being a customer and were sending me some coupons for $0.75 off a future purchase! Well, that suited me just fine, especially since I knew my project was coming up and with as many cereal coupons as I have, I knew I was going to need something to wash all that fiber down! But imagine my surprise when I opened my mail the other day and found not one, not two, but EIGHT coupons for Almond Breeze!! And they don't expire until next December (as in 2010), so I have plenty of time to enjoy my coupons.

Now, I believe you should only give praise when you feel it's due and expect nothing in return but the feeling that it gives you to let someone know they've done a good job. But do know that some people out there really appreciate it when you appreciate them, so don't be surprised if from time to time you are rewarded for your customer loyalty.

Mutual Admiration: This is a change I could get used to!

1 comment:

Tiana said...

I LOVE their almond milk. TO DEATH!

Although I'm not a milk drinker in general so I can only attest to how yummy it is on cereal and... wait for it... for making HOT CHOCOLATE!!!! (probably not seasonal right now ;) )