Ehm. Back story! Let’s dive right in:
Since time immemorial, Audrey (me) has been in customer service positions of various kinds (restaurant, movie theater, salesperson, specialized client relationship, small business, artist) and, really, all jobs are ‘customer service’ jobs. At an early point in my ‘career’ (when it was on the food service track and not what I’m doing now) I had been elevated managerially a number of times (only to come tumbling down again due to age and inexperience) but one thing I was ALWAYS fascinated with was superior customer service.
Some interesting things to note:
Perception vs. Reality: have you ever been waiting for a table at a restaurant and you think it’s been, like 45 MINUTES and you’re eyeing the hostess creepily in hopes that will magically make other customers, completely unaware of you or her, leave? Well, she has a little piece of paper at her desk that has your name, the time you entered the building and the wait time she quoted you and generally speaking (in my experience) people perceive that they have been waiting 2x longer than reality. Also – customers with drinks in their hand (thus, some kind of service) are less likely to worry about food taking too long. I digress. This is just really interesting.
Mistakes vs. Opportunities – some places you go to just have shitty service. One example: city and state buildings (generalizing here, not true EVERYWHERE). Why? Because you haaaave to go there and give them money for things. Judges in courts don’t have good customer service either. There are plenty of examples. Anyways – for the most part, though, you’re going to places that want to have good customer service (whether they pass this on to their employees is another question). When someone makes a mistake in this chain of command it’s not a tragedy – it’s actually an opportunity to make things better. Handling a ‘sticky situation’ famously will often make your customer even more satisfied after having been upset if you do right by them in making it up.
Enter: Maine Hardware. I had a strange experience the other day which I won’t go in to detail about (unless you get a few whiskeys in me and like boring stories told by people who are easily excited) at their establishment on St. John’s St. After much deliberation (with Kristina, my Dad, and potentially more people) I decided to get in touch. Lodge a complaint. Stick it to the man!
I was so delighted this morning to receive a kind, well-worded and concerned email from the president of Maine Hardware himself. He expressed concern about the incident, illustrated what he would do to fix it and thanked me for my correspondence and my honesty. WHOA!!
So now instead of being sour about a very, very, very, very, very minor thing I am as happy as a clam and want to recommend Maine Hardware to all you locals as the place to go for all your hardware-y needs. Sure, spray paint costs $1 less at Wal-Mart but they also discriminate against women and lock their employees in their stores to keep them from leaving at the end of the day so it’s totally worth it. Not to mention that driving through the mall on a Sunday is balls.
I’d also like to mention that I’ve been a mistake-magnet for the last 24 hours, it seems. I hope it wears off. But today at Pom’s Thai Restaurant on Western Ave. in South Portland they were BUMPING during the lunch hour, wow. And those servers were busting around the dining room like roller derby champs on speed. We had all gotten our lunches except for one (3/4) and couldn’t leave. Wow. The last lunch TOOK FOREVER. I don’t know if we had a nutty look on our faces, if my chopstick drumming renditions were too much for them, or if we just looked nice and they were sorry to keep us waiting on our paltry 45-minute lunch break but the server approached us just before the last lunch came out with a gift card for us to use on our next visit! Not only did this make us positive/excited/distracted from our rumbling tummies but it TOTALLY sealed the deal as far as us going back there again… probably before the week is over.
Now I have the opportunity to fix a mistake in my Etsy shop (more details later) and I want to do right by my cohorts Pom’s and Maine Hardware. Wish me luck!