Monday, April 13, 2009

Starbucks running hot and cold

Ever run into that manager who challenges you and brings the best out in you? I’ve had several. My first editor, Al Faustino, a former UPI bureau chief who boxed my ears in when I got out of college. Jim Meiggs, my MBA marketing professor who converted me to personal computers and Toastmasters, and Mike Nizankiewicz, my boss at the American Heart Association.


My credit card of choice is Starbucks. As I preached on this site months ago, if you’re going to spend $$$, get something for it. Credit cards are like gambling or drinking, some people can’t handle it and should stay far, far away. The key to a credit card is – have the money in the bank before you put it on the card.


Today I got a postcard from Starbucks saying they were giving me $3.50 for being a card member. Last year it was a free pound of coffee beans. Excellent customer service.


Being of the persuasion that people should be thanked, I called Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz, or attempted to call. Here’s where Starbucks dropping stock problem may lie. Just like their drinks, their customer service runs hot and cold. They are doing the worst thing in communications – giving conflicting signals.


I was given the run around. I’m paying long distance charges to call and thank. I had to call back three times. Twice immediately transferred to customer service. Last time, it was, “we need to know the nature.” I told them I had an issue and I wanted to speak to Mr. Schultz. Back to customer service.


Mike Nizankiewicz had a rule for people who worked for him. You answered your own phone. If someone walked in the building, even if it was a salesperson you did not want to see another time, you spoke to them unless you were in a meeting. If you call, I’m going to answer or you’re going to voice mail where I’ll get back to you within 24 hours – another Nizankiewicz rule. I remember being at a meeting in the north part of the state until midnight. About a six hour drive home. Nizankiewicz expected you in the office at 8 a.m.. I had an excuse one morning when I didn’t show up; the birth of my wonderful son – and he’s still fantastic (proud father).


I would expect terrible customer service from HP (Hewlett Packard) or Wells Fargo. I didn’t expect it from Starbucks. Mr. Schultz, I really didn’t expect to speak to you, but I would have enjoyed, “Sure, we’ll transfer you to his office,” where your customer service could have lied their teeth out that they were indeed in your office – after all, you’re the the CEO, technically it is your office. That they’d take a message. See how easy excellent customer service is, Mr. Schultz?


Don’t give convoluted messages – a great postcard and then the run-around when I call. Want excellent customer service – call Go Daddy. Thanks to one unknown rep, I was informed in February the economy had hit bottom. That rep was right – and he makes maybe $13 per hour and President Obama is paying millions for flunkies to tell him the same thing? Just call Go Daddy’s customer service, Mr. President!

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