Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lesson from a Service Debacle (ok it was only a bagel)

On Friday I tweeted about getting my money back from a Tim Horton's that couldn't make a bagel with butter. Actually it was a 12 grain bagel.

What happened is pretty simple. I went to the counter. Ordered a 12 grain bagel with butter. Handed over my cash. And walked 3 feet to the counter where they make/deliver the coffee/food.

Sounds crazy but I sensed trouble the minute I didn't also include coffee in my order. I could see the nice counter lady was kind of confused by that. However, her job is to plug the order into the computer system - so assuming she did that ok (which isn't necessarily what happened), then I should have been alright.

The second trouble indicator I got was standing at the 'delivery' counter. There wasn't actually any staff member manning the output end of the computer system - the person who watches for food orders and makes them up. Maybe she was in the washroom (something you really don't want to contemplate at a food counter I discovered)? Don't know. Just know that after a minute or four a confused looking person emerged from the kitchen - and immediately got to work serving people who'd come in five minutes after me.

After watching for another minute or two I finally inquired about my bagel with butter - and got the 'wtf are you talking about?' and 'wtf do you think you are?' looks.

This caught the attention of the nice cashier lady who agreed I really had ordered a a bagel with butter. Which lead to a heated conversation about where it had gone. Which lead to the other staff person telling me she'd given it away to someone else. Which is complete BS because I'd been watching the whole time and a 12 grain bagel had never gone through the slicer, the toaster or seen the flat side of a butter knife.

So I asked for my money back - which didn't seem to impress anyone - and left.

Here's my take away from that experience:

1. Tim Horton's is in the coffee business. NEVER order food without also ordering a coffee - even a small. It's confusing to the staff and potentially also the computer system.

2. Sh#*t happens. Especially to me. Regardless of how good a system is supposed to be, timing and other factors can collaborate to throw even the simplest execution into disarray.

3. Sh*#t happens even more when people are involved. I was watching the toaster. It was warmed up and ready to go, it's little mesh conveyer belt just waiting for a 12 grain bagel to track through. I can't speak for the computer system but I'm betting if the human operator actually put the order in properly, it was ready to display it properly.

4. Just because the customer is right, doesn't make them happy. I was in a rush and hungry. It was counting on Tim's to do what they do. They failed and I left hungrier and p'd off. Getting my money back wasn't really what I wanted (a bagel with butter would have been better).

5. Remember the line about happy customers tell like 3 people and unhappy customers tell like 3 million? Well, with technology that is way simpler now. I wonder how many companies get that? I left Tim Horton's and immediately tweeted it from by Blackberry. That got posted to Twitter, my blog, Friend Feed, and Facebook (probably other places too but I'm a little confused right now where everything goes). Given the gazillions of followers I have, I'm sure at least 6 people saw it and Tim's business that day came off by several Timbits and a small coffee.....ok, that's a joke, but just saying....

6. When things do go wrong, having on-site, visible management seems like a good thing. I could have used some help. And watching the staff fight over you isn't particularly satisfying. However, with no one around to take control it actually got left up to me. Getting my money back seemed like the only safe option.

7. Location is everything. Being a slow learner, the bread I normally use to make my toast in the morning was still mouldy Saturday (actually even more mouldy) so I got left again seeking fast food options. Guess what, there is only one choice for me. Tim Horton's.

But I'm going to wait a day until my picture comes off the staff bulletin board before showing my face again.

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