Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Posts Tagged ‘word of mouth’

The Coffee Experience: Free Coffee at Starbucks

Posted by Becky Carroll on April 8, 2008

 Hat tip to Jay Ehret for this one.  If you have been reading Customers Rock! for awhile, you know that Jay and I are jointly working on a project to see if Starbucks is able to re-invent their customer experience.  (You can go to the Categories list in my sidebar to see all posts on this.)  One of the key areas is, well, the coffee itself.  People have said that Starbucks doesn’t even smell like coffee anymore when you walk in.

Today, Starbucks is hoping to raise their image to change that.  They are introducing their new Pike’s Place Roast, and as part of the introduction, they are giving away free Short (8 oz.) cups today, April 8, at US-based Starbucks cafes.  This is coffee made with their new process, fresh ground beans, brewed at least every 30 minutes.  From their press release:

Customers Spoke.  Starbucks Listened.
The new Pike Place Roast™ was artfully created by Starbucks master blenders and roasters using input from customers and baristas to achieve a bold taste and smooth finish.  Nearly 1,000 customers spent almost 1,500 hours providing input on what’s important to them in a cup of coffee.

“It was an exciting opportunity to find the right roast that would produce the flavor customers told us they wanted in a daily coffee,” said Andrew Linnemann, Starbucks master coffee blender. “We heard our customers and we were determined to deliver the consistent high-quality cup that they expect every time they walk into one of our stores.”

According to some of the discussion at MyStarbucksIdea around offering a sample size of beverages, Starbucks will already give you a sample of a drink for free so you can see if you like it.  Plus, they are standing by their new mantra that a drink should be to your liking, or they will remake it for you, free.  So what is up with the “free” Pikes Place Roast today?

I agree with Jay on this one: they are most likely trying to build some Word of Mouth around their new blend, bringing attention to themselves and their re-focus on coffee.  Good for them for getting the word out.  Now let’s see if it works! 

Go check it out, and let us know what you think about this “celebration of Pikes Place Market”.  Is the customer experience enhanced with the aroma of fresh coffee?  Does it taste better?  While you are having your coffee, go online and learn more about Word of Mouth by joining Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba’s  Society for Word of Mouth (or SWOM).  I did, and it looks to be a great resource!

(Photo credit: muha04)

Posted in Marketing, Starbucks Project | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

A Tale of Two Doctors

Posted by Becky Carroll on October 15, 2007

compare1.jpg Can customer service make or break a sale?  You betcha!

We recently found ourselves in need of a “primary care physician” for my husband (he was very sick).  Not familiar with the doctors in this area, I asked a good friend for a recommendation.  Here is what happened:

Doctor #1: I spent 20 minutes on hold with this doctor’s office before I ever reached a live person.  The lady who answered the phone was fairly abrupt and matter-of-fact with me.  As we are considered “new patients”, I was told my husband would have to take a 30-minute “new patient” appointment (as opposed to a simple office visit); could he also show up 30 minutes early to do paperwork?  At this point, the lady checked the appointment schedule – and informed me the doctor was fully booked for 2 days!  She referred me to the local urgent care clinic.  I thanked her and hung up.

Doctor #2:I found this doctor’s office online.  I spent about 3 minutes on hold before I was connected to a very pleasant lady.  She was friendly and sympathetic, acknowledging my husband’s illness right away.  She quickly found an appointment for him to come in a few hours later (a regular office visit), with a request that he come 15 minutes early for paperwork.  Relieved, my husband saw this doctor.

Takeaways from this story:

WOM (Word of Mouth) referrals mean nothing if the customer experience is poor.  The first doctor was a referral from my friend.  I trusted that this would be a good doctor.  However, the customer service we had (long wait for phone, surly phone agent, no appointment) discouraged us greatly.

I found out that the person who answered the phone was a call center rep that answered calls for all the clinics in this particular physican’s network.  A nurse from the office called me later in the day to chastise me for not taking the “new patient intake” appointment as they are apparently very difficult to come by.  When I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a doctor that was this busy, she told me all their doctors were very busy.  I told her that was fine, and we would find another doctor!

You can hear a smile over the phone.  Just by listening to the lady from the second doctor, I could actually hear her smile; she sounded glad to be talking to a potential new patient.  I felt welcome!  This is important for anyone representing your company by phone, including not just customer service but also sales and marketing.

Make the process convenient for the customer, not for the company.  Requiring a very sick patient to take a longer (and harder to come by) appointment because they are new to your office is not the right thing to do for the customer!  A follow-up appointment would have been more beneficial and probably would have allowed my husband to be seen sooner.

Look for the long-term, not just the short-term.  A patient-doctor relationship can last for many years, as once someone finds a doctor, they don’t go shopping around for a new one very often.  Making it easy for customers to do business with you helps start the relationship in such a way that there is room for trust to build.

Amazing how the customer service experience affected our decision of which doctor to begin seeing as our family doctor!  Even before we were customers, the customer service experience mattered.

What does your experience say to your potential customers?  Will they come back to you, or will they walk on down the street? 

Customers Rock! organizations make each encounter count!

Related post: Customer service can make it or break it

(Photo: Eraxion)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »