John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

John DiJulius

John DiJulius

On occasion, when I have been made to wait longer than typical, I have received this card from Starbucks.  Every time I receive this card, I am more impressed with them than had they served me my coffee on time.

I use this example in my presentations with every audience I speak to, including professional service firms, (accountants, lawyers, etc.), and I ask, “Why would I share this example with you, when I realize you do not sell coffee?”  I will not share an example just because it is a good story, every example I share, can be leveraged in their business. To my amazement, my audiences have difficulty bridging the gap between this example and how it applies to their world.

Starbucks Card

What I love about this example is Starbucks recognizes they have a reoccurring service defect (in this case service delay), that inconveniences their customers from time to time, that they cannot eliminate. They can ‘reduce’ but can never ‘eliminate’.  Now, they do not know if it is going to happen today at noon, or 3 pm, but they do know it is going to happen a certain amount of times per week, per location.

Does your business have reoccurring service defects that you know are going to occur and inconvenience your customer?  Are their tools your front line employees can use to recognize when a customer does not receive the experience they were hoping for, and demonstrates you are willing to make it up to them?  It doesn’t always have to be giving away something or discounting.  Below is a great example of an email apology that provides the customer peace of mind in future dealings with you.

Apology Letter

Action Plan
Examine the areas you drop the ball the most and create some simple tools, your employees can utilize, to turn the service defect into a ‘WOW’ for your customer.


Dear John,

I have to vent to someone who understands.

Yesterday was my 19th wedding anniversary.  Saturday we had theater tickets, so we decided to go to dinner first.  When I made reservations at a well known restaurant, the receptionist inquired if we were celebrating anything special.  “Good.”  I thought.  “She’s gotten John’s message.  This will be nice.”  Of course I told her it was our anniversary, and when we showed up at 6:00, I expected perhaps a customized greeting acknowledging the event.  Nothing.

OK, then perhaps the waiter will say something.  Nothing.  OK then, maybe a little cake for dessert.  Again, nothing.  We ordered dessert, and I thought, “OK, maybe it will come with a little candle or something.”  Nothing.  Just look at all those missed opportunities!  Our meal was delicious, and it won’t deter me from going to the restaurant again, but as you say, they could have really WOWed us – but they didn’t.

Then, last night, our actual anniversary date, we just went to another well known restaurant for a quick bite since we celebrated on Saturday.  At the table, Len and I exchanged anniversary cards with each other, and set them up on the table between us.  It was clear the waitress noticed the cards, but said nothing.  Then the manager came over to greet us and make sure we were happy – but never said a word with four cards sitting on the table.  Again, another missed opportunity. Really, I just don’t get it!

You’d think in this crummy economy people would be looking for ways to secure business.  I don’t get it.

Thanks for listening.


~Article written by John DiJulius


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