Friday, April 30, 2004

Customer Satisfaction

I have a great tendency to bitch and complain when I get poor service or unsatisfactory products from a company. Hey, doesn't everybody? But I also believe in the flip side of that, which is that if you're going to mutter and grumble when you're unhappy, it's only right to also give praise where it's due. So I'm going to take a moment here, in this (however limited) public forum, to offer up some love and props to a couple of companies I've done business with recently.

First up is Stash Tea, who I know I've mentioned here before. These guys make the best tea I've ever tasted (green, black, and herbal), but my local supermarket doesn't carry much of their product (most notably not the ever-so-tasty Darjeeling I've become utterly addicted to in the last year or so), so I've taken to ordering stuff from their website. I'll order as much as a hundred dollars worth of tea at a time and stock up for a few months. (A hundred dollars buys a lot of tea, by the way, especially if you shop their closeout pages. But I go through the stuff like crazy, so it doesn't last nearly as long as you'd think.) And when I place big orders like that, they've taken to slipping little gifts into the box, as well. They don't make a big thing about it. There's no "FREE GIFT!" banners blazoned across their website, there's no advertising flyer in there pointing out how cool and generous they are and offering up any empty rhetoric about how they "value my business." Just, usually, an extra box of tea and some cookies or something, and a line reading "*no charge*" on the packing slip. (This time it was a box of "Darjeeling spring tea" and some sugar sticks.) This fills my heart with gladness and the happy, welcome illusion that the Stash folks and myself are some kind of Friends in Tea. Needless to say, they've got my business for the foreseeable, tea-drinking future.

The second company that deserves a mention is the Quality Paperback Book Club. And they get it because of, rather than despite, the fact that they screwed up my last order. The book I ordered was listed on the invoice, but the wrong volume was in the envelope. Which, you know, happens, because nobody's perfect and occasionally an employee will grab the book next to the one he really wants and not notice. I wasn't sure what to do about this, though, whether to just send it back with a note or what, so I called customer service and explained the situation. They, of course, apologized and said they'd send the correct book out right away. Did they want me to mail the incorrect book back, I asked them? "Keep it with our compliments," they said. "And if you don't want it, give it to a friend, trade it in at a used bookstore, or donate it to a library." OK, maybe I'm just a sentimental sap when it comes to books, but what really warms my heart here isn't the free book (which is, after all, "just" good customer service), it's that little addendum. It's the fact that they actually seemed to care that the book had a good home. Bless 'em. They've got my business, too. And not just because I'm a pathetic book addict, either.

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