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Jared Hamilton
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Bryan Armstrong

Bryan Armstrong e-Commerce Director

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Why You Lost your Best Customer

It’s all in the sprinkles

                I have an obsession with coffee. I’m not talking I like it nor need it to get going in the morning but a full-fledged love of the drink. While at home and at most restaurants I prefer to drink it black but I will have it with cream and sweetened in one way and one way only: a venti latte vanilla breve with 5 shots, no foam and a sprinkle of nutmeg. This concoction of my own careful creative process has been my mainstay at many a Starbucks or up until recently a shop called Beans n Brews. They know me by name and I can even call ahead and simply say, “It’s Bryan, could you make my coffee?” and it would be ready. At just over $8 for this indulgence, I want it perfect.


So it is with much sadness and a sense of longing that I drive by my previously beloved haunt every morning without stopping. Though I am normally (surprise) not a shy nor timid fellow, they don’t, nor will ever know, why they lost my patronage. It’s simple: they forgot the sprinkle of nutmeg one too many times. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, re-explained my order to the same baristas that I’ve dealt with for years. The first few times, I shook it off but when it continued to happen, I was done. There’s a Starbucks on the other side of the street and its $1 cheaper there. They don’t know my name and I can’t call ahead but it’s exactly what they promise to deliver each and every time.

                As I call through customer lists and review customer survey responses, our industry is no different:

 “They didn’t put my seat back and I could never get it just right again.”

 “No one set my radio stations.”

“I didn’t get a sticker telling me when my next oil change is due”

“They just handed me my keys and it took me 10 min to find my car.” 

The list goes on, trivial things, sprinkles really but they all add up to send the message that the customer is not valued, neither listened to nor appreciated.

All the above issues are addressed as part of our process, and all are things that are done correctly probably 99.9% of the time. But by attrition that .01% adds up in lost re-sell opportunity, referral business and of course revenue.

                What are the sprinkles that change the flavor of your business from the competitor who may not be as nice or personable, but does things the exact same way every time to the customer’s expectations? What are the methods you have in place to inspect them? Who does so and how often? Service sells and consistent service sells ten-fold.


Bryan Armstrong 


Rosa Luciano
Sometimes companies (or baristas in your case) tend to neglect their long term customers because they have already established that relationship so think they can get away with things like forgetting the nutmeg. They tend to focus more on the "new" customers without realizing that they have left the loyal/old ones hanging...
Jim Radogna
Great post Bryan! Some customers will complain and give you the opportunity to correct the problem (and you'd better!), but many will not say a word and simply move on. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi's famous words: “Customer service is not a sometime thing, it's an all time thing. You don't exceed your customer's expectations once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time."
Bryan Armstrong
Great observation and sadly, true. Thanks!
Bryan Armstrong
Thanks Jim!
Jim Bell
Customer service needs to be at the top of our priority list. If it's not, it will come back and bite you where the sun don't shine. Customers will remember the little things that you do and they will tell all of their friends about their experience when they see them in their new car. One thing that I did when I was selling was I would go through all of the pre-sets on their trade-in to see what they listened to. I would then pre-set the stations in their new car before their took delivery with the exception of one so I would be able to show them how to set them. Once you start doing the little things, customers do appreciate them and will come back and pay you 10-fold.

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