Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Star on The Chart

A while back I wrote about my experience at Starbucks when Joe and I were going to a movie. As you will have guessed, I did contact Starbucks and sent them a link to my blog post. That, I thought was that. Well, not true, I expected a 'thanks for your feedback, we welcome and appreciate customer input' kind of email response. But that's not quite what happened ...

Joe and I were in the wilds of Northern Ontario driving home from a training. The cell phone rang, I noticed the area code, and this will tell you a lot about our lives, I answered expecting the pharmacy. But I was wrong, I found myself speaking to a Starbucks manager who wanted to talk to me about my experience. She was unrelentingly nice, even in the face of my disbelief that she actually cared about the experience. I was in a 'bad place' when she called and was therefore not really receptive. I said something like, 'Can we just acknowledge that you are just calling to do the 'oh we care' routine, and move on?' She, who had every right to be affronted by my rudeness (I'm not always nice, I know, and being 'in a bad place' is no excuse) but she was not.

We talked a bit and she asked me what I wanted. I said, simply, 'Change.' I asked her about company rules and she explained them to me, there is no 'you can't put lids on cups for customer' rule. So we talked, she and I. All I wanted, I told her, was for her to have a staff meeting, talk about my experience, problem solve other solutions and then send me the minutes of the meeting. She agreed immediately.

A couple days after the call we went back to that movie theatre to see another movie and I wanted to get a tea. Joe said, 'Please, don't.' He sometimes just wants us to be out and a couple without dealing with crapola. I said, 'I'll not make an issue.' Well, there was no issue, I was served politely and well. I was given my tea in a manner that made it possible for me to carry without getting help. It was great. Somehow I knew that she was behind this.

Surely enough, I got an email from her with the meeting notes and a follow up from her. She had been as good as her word, she obviously did care and did want to make sure that my experience wasn't repeated.

So, I find myself in the terrific position of saying, 'I was wrong to think that systems can't change and that people don't care.'

Starbucks is lucky to have this woman working for them. She manages to deal with difficult (cough, ahem) people and still see that their issue is legitimate. This is a real skill, one that I don't always have. Anyways, thanks to her, thanks to Starbucks.

My assumptions that big corporations have small hearts was what assumptions often are - wrong. I apologize for that assumption. I thank Starbucks and it's very able representative for listening, respecting and responding. You can't know what a difference that makes for me.

And that, as they say, puts the lid on it.


Rachel said...

Glad to hear that Starbucks responded well. Our local Starbucks (of which there are legion, this being Seattle area) tend to be very disability-issues friendly. They have stores in many of the local hospitals and have done a really good job of training the staff of those locations to be sensitive and thoughtful when dealing with clients/families with many exceptionalities. I would like to think that the corporate culture as a whole has that mindset. Maybe it's not there yet, but your experience with one manager who did care and who did follow through is good to hear.

Anonymous said...

That post makes me want to go to Starbucks to get an iced caramel machiatto.

I am so happy to hear that everything worked out the way it did!


Kristin said...

That restores a lot of my faith in big companies.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Hi Dave,
I'm so glad to hear Starbucks in Canada responded as well as Starbucks UK did to us. It's so nice to see a company take responsibility and DO something about the issues we raise. Best wishes to you and Joe,

Jen said...

Good work Dave! Great to see someone actually making an effort to change, and even better when its such a big company.

Tamara said...

I'm surprised you didn't think they would respond like that. You've had successes in other situations. Was it just the size? I know the corporation I work for pushes a lot of diversity information down to us minions. It generally has more to do with race, culture, sexual orientation. I wonder - how accessible are the RBC branch banks in Toronto?

Sandi said...

I also emailed Starbucks and quoted your blog post. I did get an email back saying it had been forwarded on to Starbucks Canada Publicity Dept.

I'm glad the issue is resolved, not only for you, but for others.

Yay Starbucks!
Sandi (Australia)

Anonymous said...

Oh nice, someone is listening...and doing something about it.

CL said...

Great to hear. Fixing this was definitely in their self-interest -- everyone who reads this blog now thinks a little more highly of Starbucks, and will be more likely to feel safe going to Starbucks.

But a lot of companies don't respond to customer concerns even when it's in their self interest, so I'm still a little bit surprised.

Susan said...

A happy ending. Yay!

Kate said...

That's great! Maybe you should send them this blog post as well. Very happy for you!