Over the course of  July, guest bloggers from around the world share their good, bad, or ugly customer service experiences. It’s a place to complain, rant, and highlight opportunities for companies to improve. But, this series is also a place to celebrate when companies do well, processes work effectively, service representatives are our advocates, and we leave a situation as stronger believers in the product or service than we started.  
Kristin is never far from her coffee and her passport.

Kristin is never far from her coffee and passport.

Today’s post comes from the  Pacific Northwest. Seattle, Washington to be exact. Kristin McGunnigle is a natural born social media superstar who works full time in experiential marketing. She is hands down the most energetic person I’ve ever met, even at 7:30 AM! She’s also a sports aficionado, coffee lover, and is never far from her passport. 

You could say that customer service is in my blood.

My childhood was filled with my mother embarrassing the family, quick to express her expectation for sharp customer service. I’m convinced her love for Nordstrom has nothing to do with the product, and much more to do with the “customer’s always right”.  She passed that love for a certain store over to me. A renowned Seattle company, built with exceptional customer support and an insane return policy. Legend has it they once returned a car tire. I have become my mother; growing to expect the best of the businesses I frequent, especially in my home of Seattle, WA, a city that’s home to retailers that boast best return policies in the industry – Costco, Nordstrom and REI. If I experience poor customer service, the organization probably wont be seeing me again. But what happens when it’s your favorite local coffee shop just a few blocks from your apartment?

About a year and a half ago, I moved to an active neighborhood in Seattle, walking distance to everything. One of my favorite coffee shops happened to be a couple blocks down the road, so as you can imagine, it became my place. The coffee is excellent and I absolutely adore the baristas. The owner on the other hand is a piece of work and has displayed some of the worst customer service I’ve ever experience in Seattle.

The shop offers foursquarers a $1 off coffee deal when you check in on weekdays. The first time I ever interacted with owner, I showed her the check in after she had rang in my order and she ridiculed me for my delayed reaction. I was a bit surprised by her sharp tone and rude demeanor but I just attributed it up to a bad day. Unfortunately it wasn’t isolated. On another occasion, she blasted my two friends and I for ordering two meals instead of three. She even tried to shortchange my friend once on a separate visit.

It is some of the most appalling service I’ve every experienced. Even if you are frustrated with a customer, you never, I repeat, NEVER show them your frustration. By the time I’d realized the reoccurring problem, I’d already fallen for the fantastic location and great product and built relationships with the baristas. All of me wanted to dump this place and visit the other coffee shop a few blocks away but I was hooked. I couldn’t leave my favorite baristas and my $1 off weekday coffees. I wrestled with the decision but couldn’t stay away. On recent visits, the owner has improved (I guess someone finally read the yelp reviews) but still has her moments.

This experience completely brakes the cycle of how I typically react to poor customer service. Maybe the line wasn’t as defined as I always thought.

Kristin’s experience stirs up a lot of great questions and thoughts around customer service and one’s loyalty to a product. What line do you draw for customer service? What makes or breaks your loyalty to a business? What would you do if you were in Kristin’s shoes?

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-There’s no exchange of moolah behind these blog pages, pro-deals, or freebies with this series. What you see is what you get; real stories from real people who are sharing their experiences to challenge the status quo, inspire companies to take action, and ultimately build a life long customer. Be sure to check back this week!

July 8: Do customers dream of electric sheep? by Stephen Ellis

July 5: Nike earns an A+ by Jackie Ostlie

July 3: How to Please the Queen by Katrina Taylor

July 1: Are you kidding me? by Evelyn Wolf