Tag Archives: Experience

FedEx handles SQM with care

I’ve talked about customer service recovery on this blog before; the act of rectifying a mistake your company has made with a customer. We’d all like to be perfect but a slip up every once in a while is inevitable. It’s how you deal with that mistake that makes the difference, and often you have to do something memorable to win the customer back.

Recently we’ve been doing business with FedEx and we happened to owe a payment, so they sent us a bill. Only problem was they sent the bill to our company’s former address. Obviously we weren’t able to pay this bill because we never received it, so rather then try to track us down through the pick-up and delivery addresses which they have on file, someone decided to send our bill to a collections agency….I’d also like to add that this bill was for something like $25.00. After the issue was brought to our attention, my business partner, Craig, gave them a call to sort out the mistake. Initially, he spoke to the accounting side of operations where he was told ‘the bill was too small for them to deal with so they sent it to a collections agency and it was out of their hands.’. What a blow! Long time customers (over 20 years) and they brushed Craig off like a piece of lint from their shoulders.

Well, Craig’s a pretty mild mannered guy but this really got to him, so instead of calling accounting again, he called customer service to complain. Boy, did they turn over a new leaf fast. Customer service apologized and even wrote off the bill, which was a nice touch, but after what Craig had been through he was ready to stop doing business with FedEx all together. But—and this is the part of the story where customer service recovery comes into play—the next day at work this huge basket filled with chocolates and cookies and all kinds of other goodies was delivered to the office by FedEx. This basket had to be valued somewhere around $50.00, double the bill we’d owed them, and attached to the basket was a sincere and tasteful apology letter. That’s how you do it! They took the time to individually acknowledge that our business was important to them, and apologize for the situation. Sure, it may have cost them a bit of extra money, but they kept a client and a business partner, and truely turned a sour customer experience into a sweet one.



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Anthony Haines- warming the homes (and holidays) of Torontonians

We knew it was coming, but we didn’t realize how bad it would hit us. The December ice storm caused a reported 130,000 power outages across the GTA. People were afraid to leave their homes, shivering in front of a dismal fire. Even Mayor Rob Ford appeared as a ray of hope during this crisis, because despite his well-known personal issues he looked to be in control and played the part of the leader. But when it comes down to it, the real heat (or perhaps I should say cold) didn’t fall on the Mayor or any other politician but on the shoulders of Anthony Haines, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toronto Hydro. He stood by Ford’s side during each press conference updating the public on Toronto Hydro’s progress. I remember waiting by the transistor radio, all excitement for the holidays channeled into listening to Haines’ voice as he listed off the areas he hoped would have power soon.

No one could have been totally prepared for a natural disaster like that. Haines was blunt, not feeding the public false answers. He was a real, tangible beacon of hope, out there on the streets, away from his family on Christmas, solving the problems one area at a time. And yet, people still weren’t happy. I mean, when you’re getting thousands of phone calls from Toronto Hydro customers each day complaining, you quickly realize your trouble spots, and Haines was not one to cover them up, but instead admitted to them and worked on finding a solution.

I like to think quality is a journey, not a destination. Nothing will ever be perfect, but there will always be an unlimited number of imperfections. It takes continuous experimentation and brainstorming to find the glitches, which for most organizations occurs over a long period of time, but for Haines it was a matter of days.

I was impressed with this guy and so I organized a meeting, hoping that we might come up with some type of collaboration. He took the time to meet with me and talk and I saw that none of it was an act. He’s a generally an open-minded person with Toronto’s well being at heart, and for that I’d like to thank him and tell him to keep up the good work. It is because of people like Anthony Haines that I still believe that a positive customer service experience still exists.



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Collecting cold hard cash from freezing guests

I like to keep these blogs positive, wanting to promote good companies for their excellent customer service rather than tearing down bad ones, but every once in a while I notice an incident that needs to be aired out, and I’m afraid I’ve stumbled across one. So please excuse the venting as I indulge in a moment of catharsis.

Back in December, Toronto was hit by an ice storm which rolled through the city like a biker gang on a destructive spree. Trees snapped and withered, roads flash froze into skating rinks, and we huddled together in our homes for warmth praying that the power would soon be back on. But as the power outage lingered beyond a few days and settled a profound darkness on the holiday season, people began to realize they needed to escape their soon to be freezer box houses. So those who could afford it packed up the family and checked into some of the hotels around the city that had power. But you can’t leave beloved Fido or Whiskers behind, so families brought their pets to the hotels with them. The only problem was that the hotels were charging people to keep their pets in their rooms—and not just dogs or cats but hamsters and guinea pigs as well!

Now, I understand that they’re running a business and are in it to make a profit, but it seemed like they were siphoning money from their so-called ‘guests’ at a time when these people had no other options. A natural disaster strikes the city and here they are taking advantage of it, rather than us banding together and them stepping up to help people during a time of crisis. And for it to happen so widely leads me to believe that this wasn’t an oversight in hotel protocol but a conscious decision made by management on how to deal with the situation. The short sightedness seems almost comical. They shot themselves in the foot for a few extra bucks. By aggravating numerous guests they lost a load of customers as well as all the recommendations those guests could have given to friends or family who visit the city. One act of kindness goes a long way, but just as easily one act of greed can mar a reputation for just as long.



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Feel “at home” at Caffe Brasiliano

It’s funny the things that stick with you from the old neighborhood. The things we miss and the traditions we carry on. For me, one of those things is Caffe Brasiliano, a cafeteria-coffee shop squeezed between Little Italy and Little Portugal on Dundas, west of Bathurst. The place is a family owned restaurant run by two brothers, Kenny and Brock, and a well-known spot to the locals, taking the place of the chains like Starbucks and Second Cup.

Inside are two counters, the first is a coffee bar with a barista ready to serve you a variety of drinks and types of coffee from all over the world. The second counter is a hot table, set up cafeteria-style, where you pick the foods you want and they carry it over to one of the tables for you. There’s a ubiquitous family attitude to the place, the cashier telling you to sit down and eat before worrying about payment, and often you’ll end up sharing one of the long tables with a fellow customer. Some days you can even find up to ten cabbies on break, crowded around a table, sipping a coffee, or munching on some hot food. In the summer they open up the garage-like windows at the front of the restaurant to let the breeze in and give the place an open concept feel. It’s cheap and the portions are more than adequate, but if you do have an insatiable hunger, you can go back and ask for a bit of a bigger helping free of charge. There’s a couple TV sets showing that day’s soccer game, a good conversation starter if you’re looking for someone to talk to.

I still take my daughter there on Saturday afternoons, and although I no longer live in the neighborhood, when I step through Caffe Brasiliano’s front door I feel like a local. They’re impeccable customer service is delivered effortlessly, with a casual feel and I always have a great experience whenever I stop by.

Caffe Brasiliano
849 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON




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Kudos to the Golden Arches

Just off of Highway 35-115, nestled amongst the outskirts of the bucolic town of Newcastle, is a small oasis. An oasis that the average driver would fly right passed, not even batting an eye. That’s because it’s a restaurant readily found—too readily, as some believe—across our country: McDonald’s. McDonald’s, that’s no oasis, you say. I can hear the sounds of your mouses drifting up towards the red x, but hear me out. We forget sometimes that just because a restaurant is part of a chain doesn’t mean they’re all the same.

One morning, a couple of weeks ago, I was driving up Highway 35-115, on my way to the ski slopes, at Brimacombe. It was early, I had my daughter with me, and neither of us had eaten yet, so when we saw those iconic yellow arches above the high snow banks. I pulled off the highway and into the drive-thru. We were the first customers in line, and we ordered an Egg McMuffin, a chocolate chip muffin, and a couple of drinks. The girl told us it would just take a minute to prepare the Egg McMuffin and if we were willing to pull up front they would bring the food to us. Well, I parked the car and waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, as our stomachs were beginning to audibly growl, the girl hurried out and handed us our food. Rather than the mechanical response of another business transaction, the girl apologized profusely, and mentioned that she had included a couple free hash browns, in the bag, as a form of reparation. Aside from the genuine apology, I was quite surprised by the added gesture. Not only were they sincerely sorry but they’d gone above the call of duty to fix the situation- a move only made by companies that swear by their excellent customer service.

An often overlooked aspect of the service industry is service recovery. A term referring to taking a customer’s hellish experience and turning it into a heavenly one. This doesn’t just mean apologizing to the customer but also providing them with something of value to ensure their continued business. In fact, a customer is more likely to return to your business following a service recovery situation, than after a normal transaction. There’s an old joke in the hotel business that if you want to hook a long-time customer it’s better to screw up the first time and then make it up to them.

Needless to say, the McDonald’s off of Highway 35-115 showed an excellent display of service recovery and certainly impressed me. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely consider stopping by for a quick bite, and some great service.

1000 Regional Road 17
Newcastle, ON L1B 1L9



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