Stuck with a pricey, yet dead, four-year-old espresso machine, Kelley Gary reminded us of the importance of just being nice.
After calling Keurig customer service to see if they could help her get the machine to make coffee again, futile attempts to revive it indicated it was time for a new one.
But they took care of Gary in a big way, and then some.
The aroma of America’s coffee industry has rapidly permeated our economy. The National Coffee Association says U.S. consumers are gradually ditching non-gourmet coffee in favor of more specialty coffee and espresso-based drinks.
But with take-out specialty coffees easily running over five dollars a cup, and frequently loaded with unwanted fat and sugar, consumers are fighting back with their own state-of-the-art labor-saving home brewing contraptions. USA Today reports double-digit increases in annual sales from single-cup home brewers.
Down, but not out
Almost every family in the rest of the world has already been using a moka pot, or stove top espresso maker, for many years. With just a few parts and perfect coffee so easy to make, my European uncle woefully and, alas correctly, observed during a past visit our generic white bread to be cotton bread, and our generic instant coffee to be an abomination of rinse water left over from washing out a moka pot.
Today, we may soon need an engineering degree to operate current space age contraptions –- and with complexity, the more parts there are, the more parts that break.
“I called Keurig to see what further steps I can take before replacing my well-out-of-warranty coffee machine,” said Gary. “After trying to answer my mildly desperate, but somehow still courteous, list of questions, the rep explained I need a new one.”
For those of you of the cold drink persuasion, this is no trivial expenditure, with prices ranging into the several hundreds of dollars.
Instead of Gary’s mood souring, she appreciated the positive. “After thanking this sweet, patient customer service rep for trying to help, I wished her a good day,” Gary continued. “The rep interrupted by telling me that because I treated her so nicely, she was going to take care of me.”
Gary listened to the rep explain how her customary and everyday, “interactions with customers are perhaps on the less understanding side, and instructed me to simply send the defective piece back in a supplied return envelope that would ship with my brand-spankin’-new Keurig,” said Gary. “I was incredulous.”
Wow, so am I. The machine is at least four years old and lived a full life faithfully caffeinating its owner.
“So, you’re just going to send me a new one? Just like that? Even though I’ve told you that I bought it four or five years ago, and feel like I’ve gotten my money out of all those cups of coffee?,” Gary went on.
The Good News Guy has repeatedly noted in past columns how those working in big, seemingly impersonal companies can also be starving for a kind word, and this is no exception.
“The rep thanked me for being a bright spot in her day and a truly positive customer call — and said that she was very happy to reward my loyalty and kindness,” Gary continued.
Some may have stopped there, but Gary “called again to report my great conversation with this rep, hoping that somehow she would be recognized for her awesomeness.”
Even less dire circumstances can reveal a bigger message. Give the front line the first crack at trying to make something right. Premature irritation and manager intervention can limit our effectiveness, while clouding basic but forgotten people skills we all still have at our disposal.
“I was happily surprised to get a large box delivered three days later with a brand new Keurig and three boxes of pods – with a little note typed into the receipt thanking me again for helping her long work day,” added Gary.
What makes reps like this effective and outstanding is they really care about loyal, long-term customers. Gary will likely always be a Keurig customer and recommend them to others. In the end, isn’t that the best indicator of customer satisfaction?
Gary concluded, “I take and return calls pretty much every day. On my best day, I hope to be as kind as this stranger was on the other end of the line.”
What goes around comes around.