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Sunday, July 19, 2009

They do what to you at the Drive Thru?

Stopped at a Starbucks drive-thru today – one I have never visited before (Yes, there is at least one in the lower 48).

Taped to the window was a long and passionate letter from the manager to customers, that started, “The results from our latest customer satisfaction survey are in, and they are NOT complimentary…”

“Aaahhh yes,” I thought, “An underperforming retail outlet coercing customers to help them “game” their customer satisfaction metric.” I’ve seen the tactic before, but usually from auto dealerships that ask you to rate their service and either suggest that so long as they didn't kill a family pet, you should give all “5’s” or (so much worse), they pre-complete the survey with "5's" and make you change them. (And we’re supposed to trust that the auto industry will adopt a customer focus as the nexus of their turnaround.)

This letter was actually a plea, from management, to customers, to make their complaints vocal, and give them an opportunity to recover the satisfaction of the experience.

Great idea, I thought. You’ve now done the absolute minimum you can to overcome the service issues at your business. A barely-visible 12-pt. type letter taped to the outside of the drive-thru window, beginning in a terse tone (to who?) and asking customers (if they read far enough) to sample their coffee, evaluate and complain, all while they’re collecting change and trying to distribute beverages through a car?

How about a 64 pt. type reminder, plastered across the bottom of the ordering menu, (two steps back in the service process) stating “If you’re order isn’t ABSOLUTELY to your tastes, please give us a chance to correct the mistake FOR FREE!”?

Or because the drive thru problem still exists, set up an account that customers can text from their mobile if their drink isn’t perfect. Provide a slip of paper with the instructions with each order. Have someone administer the account, replying with, “Please come back for a FREE DRINK to make it right”. If the customer can show the text at the window or counter, the drink is gratis.

Isn’t this still “gaming” the customer satisfaction survey?

Absolutely, but by providing better service.

How else could they get customers to tell them about their mistakes and give them a chance at service recovery?

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