It Only Takes One Bad Person

In providing excellent customer service, we remind and teach our participants that it only takes one bad person and one bad experience to drive customers away — and permanently.  Therefore, it is highly essential to be treat customers, with the best care.

For in the end, they are the reasons why a business exists.

Very unfortunately, a coffee shop (a big brand), which has a branch very near our office has forgotten this.  Not only did it forget this, but it even tolerated the kind of bigotry and economic discrimination that has no place in the field of business and decent human society.

Cliff notes version of the story: our management committee had its regular conference a few days ago.  And as usual, it had asked one of our messengers to buy coffee from the establishment.  Since we moved to our new office at the start of the year, he has been buying coffee from the same place, which prides itself for its “personalized service”.

But contrary to what the establishment claims, our messenger ended up with a personalized insult.

As he was waiting for the coffee, one of the baristas rudely told him, “Yung opisina ninyo, lagi kayong order nang order dito, hindi naman kayo nagbibigay ng tip.” (Your office always orders here, but you never give tips).  The tone of voice and body language, as we have all been told, was far from polite, and definitely assertive.  And to cut the long story short, the impolite barista belittled our messenger’s profession.

Our messenger was assertive, and confronted the barista.

But instead of apologizing, the barista raised his voice, and dared our messenger to a fist fight outside the establishment, which made quite a scene inside the establishment.  Good thing, our messenger didn’t want to stoop down to the level of the barista.  He dediced to leave.

The messenger told our receptionist about the incident.  It was our receptionist who initially placed the order by phone.  She had called up the establishment and was able to speak with the assistant manager, who even defended the barista.

So since then, our messenger had been going to a different branch of the same establishment, quite a distance from the office, during succeeding meetings.

Still, it didn’t take too long for people from our corporate division to discover the incident.  We teach customer service and we value our people.  And because we all appreciate the services of our messenger, a team had been sent to the establishment to talk to the manager.

The conversation with the manager was at least cordial.  Our office reminded her of a few things — and come to think of it, as a result, she even got a little bit of training from us:

1) It only takes one bad employee to drive good customers away.  Their barista has driven us away.  My officemates and I have made it a habit to have coffee at the establishment every Monday morning.  At least 20 people from our office regularly go to that establishment.

2) No matter who or what the customer is, a customer will always be a customer — whether he or she is the CEO, a manager, accountant, messenger, or janitor.  A customer will always be the reason an establishment exists.  A customer is still a customer, no matter his or her position or economic status.

3) Even if it is only our messenger ordering, the establishment is dealing with our company.  Consequently, if our messenger receives bad service — then it is our company that experiences the bad service as well.

4) Obviously, customers don’t give tips to bad service.  It’s not even a custom to give tips at an establishment like theirs.

After a few minutes of talk, the manager apologized for the situation and called the attention of the barista — although truth be told, I am still surprised that the barista continues to work there.

The manager and the barista were encouraged to come to the office to personally apologize to our messenger.  And true enough, the manager and barista came yesterday afternoon, shortly after lunch.  They personally apologized to our messenger.  They offered him some gift certificates, which he politely declined.  The barista was all smiles.

No one deserves such treatment.  And it is only right to boycott establishments who tolerate prejudice, and make it a bad habit to give customers a bad experience.

Well, I am happy that this episode ended well for our messenger.  Our messenger is one of the gentlest, kindest, most patient people in the office.  For us to hear that he had been upset by a bad customer service provider only tells us how baaaadddd the service was, and how awful the barista behaved.  I am glad he got his vindication.

As for me, I am still iffy about going back to the place.  I don’t think I could ever go back to the place (at least that branch), out of principle.

In any case, some of my sources tell me that they use Chinese-made milk and cream for their coffee, which is contrary to their press release.  So there is enough basis to boycott the place.

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