Posts Tagged ‘Iced tea’

Coffee…or Iced Tea…to Travel

April 1, 2011

At the risk of being forced to move, I live in Seattle and I don’t eat seafood nor do I drink coffee.

That being said, Starbucks is a locally based company I am always amazed by.  Not only are their products great, their team is consistently of the “can do” mindset.

Despite not being a coffee drinker, I am a very regular Starbucks customer.  I have patronized Starbucks all over the world.  You see, I drink iced tea.  LOTS of iced tea and they have mastered the perfect glass of iced tea.

I also travel regularly and more and more hotel rooms have gone to single cup coffee makers in the rooms which makes brewing my own tea more challenging.  In Las Vegas, finding a coffee maker of any kind in a hotel room would be the equal to winning the lottery.

Last year, it occurred to me that since Starbucks makes both great iced tea AND had these nifty “Coffee Travelers” that maybe I could get a “traveler” of iced tea.  I called the Starbucks in the Hughes Center at Paradise & Flamingo in Las Vegas figuring a location near office buildings would likely have the “traveler” boxes.  Essentially, they are a foil bag filled with beverage and then put into a box with a spout for easy pour.  Each “box” holds about 95 ounces making it perfect for meetings or iced tea junkies such as myself.

I opened the conversation with “I know this is going to be an odd request but…”  The person on the other end of the phone paused for just a moment and said, “I’m not hesitating because we can’t do it, I’m just thinking what I will use for a funnel to get the tea into the pouch since it’s designed to be put under the coffee urn tap to fill.”

She then asked how many I needed (2), what variety of tea (black), sweetened or unsweetened and when I wanted to pick them up.  Sure enough, a few days later I stopped in on my way to the hotel from the airport and there were my iced tea “travelers” all ready to go.  They gave me cups, lids and straws and I was a happy, well-hydrated camper for the several days I was in Las Vegas.

Three times since then I’ve visited Las Vegas, each time with family or friends who also drink iced tea and the same location has been wonderful about making my special boxes of tea.  I call a couple of days ahead and tell them when I’ll be in and it’s ready.  By the time you are reading this, I’ll be sipping tea from yet another box of tea by the wizards at Starbucks.

What is brand loyalty worth to your company?  If you are part of a large organization, what is branch loyalty worth to you and your career?  I continue to call this particular store for my special order each visit not because no other location could or would do it; rather because we now have a history.  It’s that history which retains long term customers.

Grace Under Pressure

February 2, 2011

I arrived at the Salt Lake City Airport last week to catch my outbound flight.  As soon as I walked in, I noticed the minimal “emergency” type lighting.  Jokingly I asked a staff member, “Did someone forget to pay the electric bill?”  With a chuckle, I was told the power had been off for about a half-hour.

It’s an odd feeling to be in an airport without power.  The escalators and moving sidewalks do not work, only a few of the screens giving flight information are operating and the stores and restaurants are dark.  The generators were keeping the luggage ex-ray and metal detectors operating which allowed the airport to continue to operate.

My first stop once I clear security is always to Starbucks to get an iced tea for the trip.  I looked over and saw a line of customers in the very dark Starbucks so I joined them.  Staff told customers that due to the lack of power, they were limited to iced drinks; 3 varieties of iced teas, tea/lemonade blends and iced coffee.  They also had all the pre-made baked goods, fruit, waters and sandwiches but they could not process credit cards.

The Starbucks team were filling orders (including my Venti Black Iced Tea shaken with 2 Sweet ‘n Lows) for a continuous line of grateful customers.  People were snapping up the waters, fruit and sandwiches in anticipation of delays the power outage might cause.

Operating with a flashlight and a hand-written list of all the items prices and a small hand calculator, they continued to do business.  They kept a running list of items sold so they could later key in the data once power was restored. Pretty impressive!

It became even more impressive as I made my way out to my gate at the end of the concourse. I walked by several stores that were dark and staff members stationed out by the entrance with arms crossed sending customers away.   Really?  Was there no way to do at least SOME business?  The Starbucks was darker than any of the stores I passed yet they continued to operate and wowed customers in the process.

What about your business?  Do you have a plan in place for disruptions such as power outages?  Does your team have the tools they need even if that is a flashlight and calculator?

We “WOW” customers when we do things they do not expect and this wow factor creates tremendous loyalty.  Be sure your business is trained and prepared to demonstrate the grace under pressure of the awesome team of the Starbucks at the Salt Lake City Airport.

Serving up Customer Satisfaction

June 9, 2010

Anyone who knows me already knows I am an iced tea junkie.  Not the “iced tea” from a soda gun, cans or bottles but real, brewed iced tea.  As a result, Starbucks gets a lot of business from me – not coffee – iced tea.  They have mastered the perfect glass of brewed iced tea.

My mom is an addict also.  She and I are taking in some in Las Vegas.  Several things about Vegas; it’s hot – even things that appear to be just across the street are 1/2 mile away and I don’t know of a hotel on the Strip that has a coffee maker in the room.

What that means to iced tea fanatics is it’s a long way between much-needed iced teas and there’s no convenient way to just brew your own tea in your room.

To solve this dilemma, I called the Starbucks at Paradise & Flamingo – near where we are staying and spoke to Christine, the Manager there who just happed to answer the phone.  I asked if they offered the cardboard boxes of brewed coffee I had frequently seen in conference rooms.  “Of course”.  Then I said, “Okay, this next part will seem a little strange.”  Her reply, a pleasant “Maybe not.”

I told her what I wanted was one of those boxes, but instead of brewed coffee, I wanted their magic formula of brewed iced tea but without the ice.  Ice I can easily get at our hotel – brewed tea, not so simple.  She said she didn’t know of a reason why that couldn’t be done but asked me to hold a minute.  It wasn’t much longer than a minute before she came back and told me sure, and even gave me a price that was more than fair.  Seems the only reason she had to confer with her team was that the fill opening on the top of the box is designed to fit the coffee tap.  To pour tea from a pitcher would require a little creativity but she was sure they could use a funnel to accomplish my request.

I was so thrilled, I ordered my “box of tea” – in fact, I ordered 2.  It worked so well, this will become a normal event for me whenever I’m in Vegas.

The best part; Christine’s can do attitude. There was no “Well, we don’t normally do that” just a willingness to explore a new way to serve the customer. Logically, it wasn’t that odd a request, they have the boxes, they make the tea but often I find employees aren’t open – or empowered – to put components together in ways other than the “standard issue”.  This is why we love our Starbucks and gladly stand in line to do business with them.

Are the members of your team empowered – and encouraged – to serve customers even beyond the confines of your “menu” of goods or services?   Shouldn’t they be?

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