Tag Archives: SQM

The Birth of Customer Service

Once upon a time, some 2,000 years ago, a farmer by the name of Mac started selling eggs alongside the road. Once every so often, a neighbour of his would come by and buy a dozen or two. Soon enough, word spread quickly and he had a steady stream of customers to tend to each morning. Farmer Mac found himself content with the sizeable profit he had flowing in each day. Unfortunately for him, Farmer Bob took notice of his easy-going lifestyle and started to sell his eggs on the side of the road as well. To top it off, Farmer Bob offered a free bouquet of flowers with every purchase of a dozen eggs. Naturally, the ladies loved this and flocked to buy eggs from Farmer Bob’s.

Farmer Mac was quite miffed at this turn of events and thought long and hard about how to one-up his crafty neighbour. In the end, he decided to sell fresh meat along with his eggs. His customers loved the convenience and so he won their hearts over, once again.

Farmer Bob thought, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” and asked Farmer Mac if he wanted to set up one big shop at the end of the road. Farmer Mac agreed and they teamed up to sell different products together, including eggs, meats, milk, and flowers.

Soon after, more and more farmers asked to join them, selling their own unique wares. The customers loved the convenience of one stop shopping and Farmer Mac and Farmer Bob’s invention is now considered the birthplace of the modern day shopping mall.

To enhance the customer experience, a courier by the name of Jeff started offering a home delivery service, where those who were sick and elderly could buy products from the marketplace from the comfort of their own home. As more and more people preferred to order from home, Jeff’s service became more and more popular. Today, his company is known as the retail-crusher, tech giant, Amazon.

Okay, admittedly we’re just having some fun in advance of April Fool’s Day, but when you think of it, chances are that customer service did indeed start with a small farmer at the side of a road. Today, it is the key to drawing in consumers and making a profit.

 

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Shoes Speak Louder Than Words

A few weeks ago, one of my close friends bought a pair of relatively expensive shoes. Immediately after putting them on for the first time, he realized that there was a very strong smell that didn’t seem to go away.

Even though my friend has purchased many shoes, and is familiar with this particular brand, he’s never had an issue like this before, and he absolutely could not figure out where the smell was coming from or how to get rid of it. He tried airing them out, leaving them outside, shining them, and spraying Febreeze on them, but he just could not get rid of the smell.

After exhausting all the ideas that were suggested to him, he ended up calling the company and explaining his problem. They had never heard of a problem like this, but wanted to please him and so they sent him a gift card to replace the shoes.

I decided I was up to the challenge of finding a way to fix these smelly shoes, so I took them to a certain place I’ve heard about. Nick’s Custom Boots and Shoe Repair on Dupont Avenue near Davenport. This business has been around for many years and I’ve been hearing it’s the go to place in Toronto for people who have a pair of shoes and needed something done. Nick is the go to guy and knows everything about shoes. In addition to repairing shoes, Nick is also known for making custom shoes. Whether you have a weird shaped foot, or want something very fancy, Nick can do it!

When I first called the store, and then went down with the shoes, it was immediately clear that all of the staff were friendly, polite, and knowledgeable. That said, in this case, they were stumped by the odour so they brought out Nick to look at it.

Nick immediately knew what it was. The culprit was the type of rubber on the sole of the shoe and there ended up being no way we could get rid of it because it was the smell of the chemical itself. Whereas some people would have given me a song and dance, he instead simply gave me a few suggestions on how I might be able to lessen the smell, but truly didn’t believe it was possible to get rid of it entirely.

On top of that, when he found out I was going to a wedding that night, he quickly shined a pair of shoes for me and only charged $5.00!

Nick and his staff are very talented and truly a pleasure to deal with. Whether you need shoe products, a shoe repair, your shoes shined, or some nice new shoes, I highly recommend Nick’s Custom Boots and Shoe Repair.

Nick’s Shoe Repair

info@nickscustomboots.com

416-924-5930

https://nickscustomboots.com

 

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The Olympics are over…but the newfound appreciation for Korean Cuisine goes on!

A few weeks ago I was getting together with a former SQM employee and for a bit of fun I gave her the challenge of picking the restaurant. She asked me if I preferred better food or a fancier place and I responded that I’d like better food. I don’t care how fancy it is as long as the place has good food and a good atmosphere. Since her background is Korean, she picked a popular Korean restaurant near Yonge and Finch in Toronto.

Huh Ga Ne is a traditional BBQ restaurant that is open 24/7. They have your regular tables and the more traditional ones where you sit on the floor. I’ve been there three times now and it has always been insanely busy! The restaurant offers authentic, ethnic, and delicious cuisine!

The staff are very friendly, helpful, and are happy to make recommendations. I’ve tried both hot pots and barbecue…both options are excellent and filling. They have a nice selection of beers and drinks to choose from. Other than one small television that is usually tuned to CP24 and the news, all of the other, large screens are constantly playing kpop, which I personally find adds to the fun atmosphere. It truly is a relaxing, casual place, with a great Korean atmosphere.

Given the amount of business, the products are certainly fresh, and even though I’m cooking some of it myself, it has always turned out to be tasty and flavourful. Even better, it’s reasonably priced….two to three people could eat for $40.00 -$50.00 depending on what you order. If you want something not too far from midtown Toronto, and a fun, authentic experience, I suggest this cozy Korean spot.

416-901-1288
http://www.huhgane.com/

 

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March Break Madness!

Looking for things to do for the upcoming March break? You need look no further than the SQM Picks list!

  • Pop by Bruce’s Mill in Stouffville or Kortright in Woodbridge for the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival! Observe the process of tapping and boiling sap to turn it into maple syrup. Dive into Canadian culture, ride a horse-drawn wagons, and get a taste of that delicious Canadian syrup while you’re at it.
  • Take in the Broadway production of Come From Away, the smash hit  musical that has landed in Toronto! The show follows the true story of what happened when 38 planes were forced to land in Newfoundland and Labrador following the attacks of September 11th. Tickets are on sale online!
  • Rediscover your childhood love for hockey at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Take a peek at the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world, view old hockey footage and photos, and observe the records left behind by some of the world’s greatest players. It’s a must-see for hockey lovers of all ages!
  • Want to spend all of March break admiring world-renowned pieces of art! Yes, you can! The March break camp at the Royal Ontario Museum lets kids ages 5-14 work on their own pieces of art and learn about history right at the museum.
  • Visit the Evergreen Brick Works for a refreshing taste of nature. Learn to ride a bike, visit the garden market, or get a taste of some organic and locally grown foods. Take advantage of the spring-like weather while you’re at it!
  • March break is the perfect time for a trip to the zoo when it’s not too hot and not too cold! Make sure you get a chance to see the giant pandas before they’re sent off to the Calgary zoo.
  • Head off to Niagara Falls for some great weather and a fantastic view. There are some amazing waterparks there including the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and Great Wolf Lodge.
  • Pack your bags and head north to get in some spring skiing, or to simply relax at a resort. Get away from the city life, recharge your batteries and take some time for yourself.
  • Hit up an escape room! Immerse yourself in a life-size puzzle in which you have to use your wits, brains, and intelligence to escape. It’s a great teamwork activity, and will test the mettle of your friendships like nothing ever has. Some can even be done with kids!
  • Ottawa is an excellent place to visit for a trip focusing on Canadian history and culture. Visit the National Gallery of Canada in which the stories of Canadian artists are shared, or pop by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to learn about engines, aircrafts, and the international space station itself.
  • Visit Science North in Sudbury and view their many exhibitions, including flight simulators, the gravity well, and the human fitness lab. Science North has an excellent range of activities for all ages, and can be educational to people at all stages of life.

Whatever you choose to do from skiing to an escape room, or simply just relaxing, I hope you and your family have a safe, eventful, and happy March break!

 

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Spice Girls Are Not the Headliner Anymore!

If you’re an avid baker, you may have realized that there is a worldwide shortage of vanilla beans. Not only is the price of supply skyrocketing, but it’s also making it difficult to find good quality beans. Since my wife had a recipe that required several vanilla beans, I went on a search looking for beans at a reasonable price. During my research, I came across a store that I used to be familiar with when I lived downtown. House of Spice located in Kensington Market in Toronto on Augusta Avenue.

I called up to find out if they had the product I was looking for, and much to my surprise, they stocked a few different varieties of the bean. The most popular is the Madagascar vanilla bean and while other places quoted as much as $12.00 a bean, House of Spice was selling them for $6.95. My wife and I decided to go down there to check out the quality. Much to her excitement, the beans were fresh and of high quality!

While we were there, my wife started looking around and found a number of different and unique ingredients that she had been searching for. Items like pickling salt, Ethiopian spices, and several different types of coffee were all right there, tucked into the little store. In addition to the wide selection of products and reasonable prices, perhaps what was just as important, if not more, was that the staff were extremely friendly and very knowledgeable.

When it comes to something like simple salt and pepper (this store had 4 different varieties of specialty sea salt and truffle salt!) you don’t need an expert, but with other products you need someone who understands what they are for, and how they should be stored. The employees at House of Spice were helpful, and clearly know their business! Although it is a small store, they manage to stock a lot of different items, so I would plan on browsing the shelves. In fact, why not make an afternoon of it? There are lots of other food stores in the neighborhood, as well as great restaurants to grab a bite.

House of Spice is definitely a worthwhile place to check out for anyone interested. Enjoy your cooking and shopping and remember to invite me for dinner!

House of Spice
416-593-9724
http://www.ehouseofspice.com

 

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Keeping Great Customer Service Up and Running

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog highlighting my great experience at The Running Room. At the same time I was dealing with The Running Room, one of the SQM employees directed me to another shoe store that she’s been dealing with for years, known as Running Free, and in particular the Ajax location.

The owner, Steve Ockrant, immediately called me to introduce himself and while he suggested it was best if I came in, due to his schedule and distance he offered to bring some shoes over to my office, for me to try on. Realizing he was doing me a favour, due to our mutual friend, I must say I’ve never had such special service for a retail product!

Steve came, we chatted, and he brought six pairs of shoes for me to try on. Based on the sizes and styles he brought, he was able to narrow down the shoes that would work best for me, and then a few days later he returned with more shoes. He even left me with a couple of pairs for me to walk around the office in before I made my final decision.

Although I returned both of the pairs that made it to the shoe finals, I eventually made it out to his store where two of his amazing employees found the perfect pair for me.

If you are ever looking for great shoes, at a great price, but more importantly amazing and knowledgeable staff go to Running Free, ask for Steve, and mention my name.

Running Free

(416) 410-3733

www.runningfree.com

 

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An “Amped Up” Amazon Experience

Whether for pricing, selection or convenience, I find myself more frequently turning to Amazon to make a variety of purchases. While I’ve always felt they provide great customer service, my most recent experience re-enforces this….

Back in mid-December, my wife purchased a Bluetooth speaker to give to a friend as a Christmas present. Since she was very excited about the speaker and our friend loved it, I decided to surprise her and recently went online to purchase another one. When I looked at my order history, I realized that the speaker was now less than half the price that it had been selling for a month earlier. I decided to put Amazon to the test, and called up customer service to see what could be done about the difference in pricing.

While I thought it would be easier to simply credit my account, the Amazon customer service representative indicated that their system works differently and that I would have to return the item and reorder it. When I explained I didn’t have the original item because I gave it as a gift, he allowed me to order two items, and give one back with the return label he was providing me. To minimize my inconvenience, he even allowed me to order the new items with the fastest shipping method. To me, this sounded great!

I placed the order on Saturday afternoon, and much to my surprise, on the Sunday, I received an email that Amazon had already attempted to deliver it to my office (I didn’t think they would deliver on a Sunday as they indicate “business days” for shipping times). My item was received the very next day and a day later I received confirmation of the credit reimbursement.

Given how Amazon stood behind their lower price and made it quick and simple for me to return and receive the item, it truly was an amazing experience. I still love going out to the stores, but this is another example of why mortar and brick retailers really have to step up their game.

Hats off to Amazon!

www.amazon.ca

 

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