Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the inflated importance of "customer service"


i've been thinking a lot about this story, and for a while, i was of two minds. i'm a dedicated coffee snob - i have a double espresso every morning - and while i enjoy iced lattes on occasion, i can't imagine pouring hot espresso over ice and serving it. it would dilute it. at the same time, if that's how a customer likes espresso, that's fine... it's not like the coffee is REALLY ruined in any serious way.

but, at the same time, Murky Coffee has a menu of drinks. that's what they serve. if you want something that they don't serve, don't complain about it and get angry, just go somewhere else. Starbucks will certainly pour your espresso over ice if you want it. if you like your espresso poured in a glass of OJ, your taste preference doesn't mean Murky Coffee should be required by law, custom, policy, the tenets of "customer service", or anything else to pour a shot of espresso into a glass of OJ and serve it to you. it's enough that that idea is repulsive to them, that they feel that will reflect badly on the quality of their product, even if it's no trouble at all for them to do it.

i won't deny that Murky went a little too far here... i think that their attitude was unwarranted, at the very least. you can be polite about everything, saying that you don't serve your espresso over ice, that you're sorry, and that it's store policy. don't be demeaning as if the customer is stupid or wrong for having the preference they have. be polite but firm that it's not something you recommend, but leave it at that. and if you have to, suggest that you will give them a cup of ice and an espresso (which is what the store did), or remind them that they can go to Starbucks down the street if they want to.

so, i support Murky in principle... just not in execution.


Blogger EcoMama said...

Were I in DC, I'd stage a sit-in at murky with iced espressos and an inflatable dick for people to punch. But that's just because I went to Wesleyan, and that's what we do.

Seriously, as the economy is tanking, shopkeepers even at snobby coffee bars had best get a clue that customers keep them open. They had ice. They had espresso. They should shut the f#$k up and make the drink.

I bet the place is closed within six months because of bad publicity!

10:23 PM  
Blogger MCR said...

this is about the only time i'll use this line of argument, but i stand by letting the free market decide this one. i want Murky to be free to be elitist if that's the angle they want to take. if they want to sell a fixed menu and refuse to make even minor modifications, i think that's their prerogative, and with things like this, there will be customers (myself likely among them) who will not be put off by such an attitude. there will, however, be many more customers who will be thrown off by it, because it runs counter to a lot of American values... thus my comment about how they can go to Starbucks instead if it bothers them. the market can and should determine if there's a profitable slot for uber-elitist picky coffee shops in Clarendon, VA.

10:40 PM  

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