Pacific Coffee also gets it!

One more company that uses their customers’ date of birth to enhance their service is Pacific Coffee!

When I touched my Pacific Coffee debit card on their scanner to pay for my coffee, the barista immediately said, “Happy Birthday, today we can upgrade your tall coffee to grande.” WOW! I responded by changing my order to short coffee and getting it upgraded to tall. It was just a $5 saving for me, but surely a WOW customer service!

Read my last post about brithdays in case you missed it.

The Weekly Round-Up: An Introduction

First post by our new contributor, Hamza:

How’s it going readers? Starting from today, I’ll be putting up a couple of links from around the blogosphere of articles that are either a must-read, extremely useful, or just plain interesting. These will of course be sticking to the themes of healthy living, productivity, business, personal finance, inspiration and life in general.

Without further ado, here are 8 interesting articles for the week ending Sunday, 12/04.

Stay tuned for the next weekly round-up!

American Express and Mandarin Oriental get it!

mandarin-bdayMost hotels are very particular about getting their guests’ date of birth upon check in. Whenever I am asked to fill in mine, I ask, “Are you planning to send me a birthday card?” I usually get a sheepish smile in response.

Out of the hundreds of hotels that have collected my DOB during the last ten years of my traveling – including some of the biggest chains and brands – only Mandarin Oriental in Macau sends me a birthday card every year. And it comes with a special offer of a deluxe room for two at almost half the price for any two nights during my birthday month! That’s WOW!

amex-bdayThis year, I also got a birthday card from American Express. And this included six discount coupons on meals at some of the best restaurants in Hong Kong! Another WOW!

If you are in any kind of business or sales, remember that one of the easiest ways of enhancing the relationship with your customer, or with anyone in your life for that matter, is remembering their birthday. And then following up with a gift or a personalized card or a phone call or even an SMS – anything but a link to one of those electronic greeting cards!

I know you can’t help thinking what to do on Mush’s birthday 🙂 Forward a link to my blog to somebody who could benefit from the information and inspiration. Also, any feedback, good or bad, on my blog through comments on Why I Write? page would mean a lot to me.

Surviving the Recession…

A very comprehensive action plan to survive recession – adapted from Tom Peters’ blog:

I am constantly asked for “strategies/secrets for surviving the recession.” I try to appear wise and informed—and parade original, sophisticated thoughts. But if you want to know what’s going through my head, read the list below:

You work longer. You work harder. You may well work for less…
You volunteer to do more.
You always bring a good attitude to work. You fake it if your good attitude flags.
You literally practice your “game face” in the mirror in the morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction…
You get there earlier. You leave later.
You forget about “the good old days”—nostalgia is for wimps.
You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.
You eschew all forms of personal excess. You simplify.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You raise to the sky the standards of excellence by which you evaluate your own performance.
You thank others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat yourself if bad things happen.
You behave kindly, but you don’t sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient.
You treat small successes as if they were Superbowl victories—and celebrate and commend accordingly.
You shrug off the losses, and get back on the horse and try again.
You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
You eventually read the gloom-sprayers the riot act.
You learn new tricks of your trade. You network like a demon.
You help others with their issues. You give new meaning to the word “thoughtful.”
You redouble, re-triple your efforts to “walk in your customer’s shoes.”
You mind your manners—and accept others’ lack of manners in the face of their strains.
You are kind to all mankind. You leave the blame game at the office door.
You become a paragon of accountability.
And then you pray.

How not to sell?

Someone, we’d call Kevin for now, called me and asked if I remembered meeting him about a year ago at a particular event. I didn’t. He then described me and himself, then asked for an appointment. He wouldn’t tell me anything about the purpose of the meeting except ‘you were an inspiration, and I’d like to see you again’. I proposed the day and time and place; he agreed. I told him I’ll give him 20 minutes. He said ‘too short’ but agreed.

On the day, Kevin was about seven minutes late ‘due to traffic’. After a quick hello, he asked if I’d like to do something to help the environment. I said I’d love to. Kevin then told me I should go with him to the ‘Environmental Shopping Mall’ he works for – about 30 minutes commute from where we were. I asked him if it was some kind of network marketing, to which he said ‘no’. After a few minutes of probing, it turned out Kevin worked for a well-known network marketing company selling skincare, nutrition supplements and household products which were all supposed to be “good for me and the environment”! And his purpose was to recruit me or sell me some products.

I won’t tell you how the meeting with Kevin ended, but it shouldn’t be difficult to see the good, bad and ugly in this sales call.

Pacific Coffee Company gives free coffee!

I’m a starbucks and pacific coffee addict. On one particular day, I was really craving a chilino from pacific and so without further ado I rushed to my nearest branch (where I happened to be a regular customer). I could already taste that coffee in my mouth before I stepped in. I went to the counter, placed the order, took out my wallet…only to realize that I was low on cash…and by low on cash I mean my wallet was empty. First thing that comes out of my mouth is ’shit!’ as you can imagine my extreme frustration at this point. The guy at the counter, who knows I’m a regular customer, smiles and asks me what’s wrong (he already knows). I show him my empty wallet, he tells me it’s not a problem and gives me a free grande chilino of my choosing on the house! Definitely WOW!

[Contributed by Hamza, Hong Kong]

Pacific Coffee

Fernando’s in Macau

It was the last day of our fantastic family vacation in Macau. We checked out and headed to the highly recommended Fernando’s on Hac Sa Beach on the Coloane side. The restaurant had very homely atmosphere, breezy backyard and friendly waiters. We had delicious finger-licking curry and fried king prawns. When we produced our credit card to pay for the meal, we were told, “Cash only”. Oops, we didn’t have enough. The manager said, “no problem, take the bill, mail us a check.” We couldn’t believe what we were hearing! There are actually people and places like that today? WOW!

[Contributed by Altaf, Hong Kong. Oct. 2007]

Tom Peters on Recession

An excerpt from one of Tom Peter’s recent posts:

Don’t think of our current economic crisis as a recession. Instead, think of it as a recalibration. Everything is different now. If you think of it as a recession, you may be tempted to “hunker down” and wait for the economy to cycle back. If you think of it as a recalibration, you will be motivated to focus on what you have to do differently, since everything is different now.

  • The way your business generates results is different, now.
  • Your customers think differently, now.
  • Your customers care about different things, now.
  • Your customers act differently, now.
  • Your customers may actually be different people, now.
  • Customers aren’t disposable anymore; more than ever, you have to create sustainable customer relationships.

So, what can we do differently?

Pizza Hut in Jakarta offers WOW customer service!

pizzahutThis is the Pizza Hut right after the tollgate on the highway to Bandung. And there’s something different about this one. Besides the fact that the staff is very happy and enthusiastic, they love to entertain kids by making balloon animals for them. There’s a huge basket in a corner which is filled with long balloon tubes. Kids come and select a color and one of the staff would make an animal or something for the kid. Kids love watching the transformation of balloon tubes into different shapes. And these balloons are easier to keep. It also makes their parents happy because the whole process keeps their kids away for a while. It seems to make the staff happy because they get to interact with different kids and spread some cheer in between taking orders and serving pizzas! The balloon hat in the picture is my contribution to the shapes now available ☺ What a simple idea! And so much WOW!

Cathay Pacific goes from Wow to Shit!

Cathay has been my favorite airline since 1997 when I first started traveling on it, up until recently when I finally made up my mind that I don’t like it any more. And it’s the little things that seem to be slowly disappearing – like the genuine smile at the check-in desk, the passion and enthusiasm of the cabin crew and the real care for the passenger.

I have had faulty AV systems on my seat twice in the last six months – they say, “Sorry sir, would you like to change your seat.” I don’t, because I am sitting on a first-row aisle seat – the only comfortable seat in the plane for someone who is tall and suffers from back pain.

Most cabin crew don’t hear English very well, so you almost always have to repeat yourself if you ask for anything other than water. People making cabin announcements often sound like kids who have just learnt how to read.

What peeves me the most is when you press the call button and nobody bothers. I have often had cabin crew pass by without stopping, even when they see the call light turned on above my seat. One of my colleagues often tells the attendants who show up after a long time, “If I had a heart attack, I’d be dead by now”. Most of them don’t seem to understand what he means by that.

So yeah, Cathay is consistently moving from WOW to SHIT on my scale. So why do I still travel Cathay? For it’s convenient connections from Hong Kong, where I (mostly) live. And for crew like Athens, who still care and love what they do. Today he recognized me and remembered that few months ago, I had given away my favorite seat so a mom and child could sit together. He treated me really well today.
[Written during a Cathay flight from Hong Kong to Karachi on Oct 19, 2007]

Al Jawal Network in Saudi Arab is WOW!

I have started keeping local SIM cards for all the places where I frequently travel to, in order to save on the roaming charges. When I went to Riyadh on my first business trip, the first thing I wanted to do was buy a local SIM card. But soon after landing, I got a text message from Al Jawal, the local network: Get a local number without changing your sim, call … WOW! I immediately called the number and followed the recorded instructions; soon I heard, ‘your local number has been activated’, and the line went dead. I said, ‘wait a minute, what’s my local number, what do i do next???’ At that moment another text message came with my local number and instructions on calling and recharging. WOW!

For the next four days, I was able to use both my HK number and the local number at the same time. What’s more, after every call Al Jawal would send a message about the balance amount. Surely a WOW network!