Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 06 30 Take responsibility for your screw up

In business, there is nothing worse than screwing up your customer’s order and not fessing up to it.  It’s like lying to the press.  It stirs a bigger fire than the actual news itself.  Have you ever sat in a restaurant and they forgot about you?

This has happened to me several times.  I think it’s because I’m so small, I’m nearly invisible…  One time I was sitting at the roof top bar of the Sandia Casino and Resort with my friend, Maricella (about 6 years ago or so) and we each had ordered a drink, and after being served, we never saw our waitress again.  Literally, 2 hours had gone by, and nothing.  Well, we didn’t see the waitress; and she also forgot to bring us our check.  To make up for it, we took that as a sign that our drinks were on the house that night; and after 2 hours of laughing and enjoying the ambiance and scenery we left. 

Another time, I was with my grandparents at the Village Inn on University and the airport; you remember, the stinky one; for their famous Friday fish night.  Well, I’m not a big fish eater, however, my grandparents are; and Gramma is notorious for ordering a second helping  just to sneak it out in a napkin to take it home for left overs.  The last time we were at that particular Village Inn, she of course ordered her second helping as she was clearing out round 1.  10 minutes go by, some other customers come in and they get seated, no fish.  20 minutes go by, and another family comes in and gets seated; the first family is getting served their dinner, no fish.  30 minutes go by, the second family gets served their dinner, our waitress walks past, and doesn’t even acknowledge that we are even there. 

Now, my Grandpa isn’t exactly the most patient man in the world.  As a matter of fact, he absolutely hates when Gramma orders seconds, because he doesn’t like sitting there waiting for her to finish.  So, at 30 minutes, he’s already ‘mean mugging’ the waitress; and trying get Gramma out of her seat so he can get up and walk around.  40 minutes now go by, Grandpa has lost all patience, and doesn’t even want to pay for his dinner; he wants to just walk out.  45 minutes – Gramma is now done waiting.  We get up, and pay for our check and walk out.  As we are walking out the door, the waitress is bringing the 2nd plate of fish to the table and looks at us in disgust, with that ‘how rude’ look on her face.  My Grandmother, who is the most non-confrontational person in the world – says “we waited for an hour, and thought you forgot” and she turns and walked out the door!  I laughed so hard, because I never seen her that pissed off!   Mind you Including us, there was only 4 other tables occupied in this whole restaurant.

I was sitting at my famous Village Inn on Menaul and University and, I was there meeting with a journalist, and was there for a while.  After my meeting with the journalist, I thought I’d get started on another blog, since I had time before I had to go to my brother’s house.  My waitress, Kerry asked if I would like a re-fill of the ½ Ice Tea ½ Apple Juice concoction that I order.  I decline because the caffeine was going to make me launch thru the roof.  So, I asked for a glass of water.  Well, I imagine 5 minutes had gone by and Kerry comes by with my glass of water, profusely apologetic and admitting that she had forgotten about me. 

First of all, I didn’t even notice, I was so engrossed in what I was writing, and second of all, her admission that she forgot immediately disarmed me, and I told her no worries, that I wasn’t in any hurry.

My point is, we all make mistakes, even me.  Yes, I know, shocking, but yes, I admit, I am not perfect; contrary to popular opinion.  However, we customers know we’re not perfect, and we know you’re not perfect either.  You are more apt to us blowing off your mistake and carrying along with our lives than to try to cover it up and prompting a blog like this for the whole world to see.

When I worked for the Albuquerque Convention Center, I trained each and every one of my staff to come to me at the first sign of making a mistake.  I told them it is much easier to clean up a mess if they have my help; and I will be less apt to discipline them and more willing to help them correct their mistake than if I were to find out about the problem some other way.  (This was totally against SMG’s company policy and standard practice by the way, however, my office was secluded from the rest of administration and was able to get away with that stuff.)  My position with my employees was always completely honest and upfront from the beginning of each of their employment.  My standard line was: “Don’t put me in a position to write you up.”  The employees that worked for me that are still there today are there because they have headed that advice.  Today, they now run that department and do an Excellent Job doing it.  (Richard, Joe, Kelly).  Good Job guys!

Bottom line; Admit your mistakes, embrace your imperfection, train your employees to admit what they’ve done wrong.  It’s much smaller mess to clean up than one that is caused by trying to sweep a problem under the rug.  True transparency is very transparent.

Have a great Day!

Michael D. Chavez
Cherokee Street, LLC

Monday, June 27, 2011

Customer Appreciation – Isabella’s Bakery vs. the Subway Downtown

Although I don’t very much miss the hustle of running ragged working for the Albuquerque Convention Center; I do miss working downtown.  One of the things I do dearly miss is my Thursday’s Meatloaf Day at Isabella’s Bakery.  And I’m reminded of it even more now that I am a subscriber on their Facebook fan page and receive their daily specials every morning; I log in and find my first glace at facebook foaming at the mouth the moment I wake up.

Everyone who knew me on a personal level would know that Thursday’s was my “Meatloaf” day at Isabella’s.  And I do mean everyone!  I had my entire guest services staff recommending meatloaf day at Isabella’s during every convention we had just because I loved it so much! 

What I do like about Isabella’s (not that this happened every day) is that every once and a while the fine folks there would recognize that I was a very faithful customer and tell me that my money was no good that day.  What they probably don’t know is that I also marketed the hell out of Isabella’s; and even though they DID recognize it, I don’t think they realized to what extent.  And my reward…  I wouldn’t get just free Meatloaf on Meatloaf day, I would get Double free meatloaf on meatloaf day!

Subway was also a favorite of mine, just because I recognize that if I did eat at Isabella’s every day, I would probably die of a heart attack.  Not that Isabella’s didn’t have healthy food, it’s just that the unhealthy food at Isabella’s screamed louder at me when I walked in from the street side.  Now, Subway I actually ate at more often.  It was closer by about 25 feet (which was always a plus for me).  And, well, I’m hooked.  Subway was always my quick answer for the “where can I grab a quick bite to eat” question we would get because, well, it was subway, and they were really, really fast.  I don’t care if the line was out the door, and ½ way around the plaza, they could knock out a lunch run with less than 4 minutes of waiting in line on their busiest day. 

I would even let Subway know if we had a special event that would draw a huge crowd on the Saturday’s the they were closed because there would be a huge potential for them to make money.  I also did it, because we needed options for our customers to go to, because, as you know, NOTHING is open on Saturday and Sunday for lunch in Downtown Albuquerque. 

Do you think the owner would cop for so much as a free soda or cookie to me and my staff?  Nope…  Never…  But I didn’t care.  I always considered Subway as the additional option when our clients had no other alternative; however’ Isabella’s Meatloaf – That was an experience you just had to check out!

You have loyal customers?  Appreciate their loyalty.  You can’t buy that kind of PR!

Have a Great Day!

Michael Chavez
Cherokee Street, LLC

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 06 23 Village Inn – Menaul and University

First I would like to thank all the fine folks at #VillageInn on Menaul and University for putting up with my ‘can’ going in and hogging up a table for several hours at a time for a glass of Ice Tea and their free #wifi service.  I would like to compliment Diana who is a host at Village Inn as well as the rest of the front line staff I have encountered over there.  Diana always has a smile on her face when I come in, and has made it a point to make me feel welcome every time I walk in.

With a little help, they have also mastered the #HuevosRanchos Plate that I like over there.  Sure it’s not #Sadies, #Monroes, or even the #BarrelasCoffeeHouse but it works for us light skinned folk, and definitely works for those out of town visitors who want to experience this fine breakfast dish, but don’t want the full “ramifications” that comes with eating the ‘real deal.’ 

I have eaten at several of the other Village Inn’s and I just don’t receive the same service as the one I receive at the one on Menaul and University. 

The Village Inn on Coors north of Montano, I experienced a waitress who just had some inappropriate comments about my gender (man hater) after having a conversation with a friend of mine and finding out they are from the same small town of #Taos, #NewMexico; felt comfortable enough with us to make this comment to me.  I’m kind glad I don’t remember her name, because I definitely would have listed it here.

The Village Inn on University at the Airport smells in the most horrible way.  It seems like there is either mold in the carpet or the vents, or something, but I really get grossed out eating just by the smell.  And for those who know me, know I don’t have a very good sense of smell to begin with, however it seems like that one just hits me.

The Village Inn in #LosLunas I actually enjoy going to, this is the one I find myself taking my Grandparents to quite often.  Even tho they don’t have free wifi; I like it.  I just have one beef, and it’s a small, very correctable one.  When making a Huevos Ranchos Plate, don’t fold the tortilla, spread it out!!!  The whole point of this dish is that the tortilla is the base of everything on the plate.  It’s hard to cut, and very messy.  So, please, all you Huevos Rancho’s makers – the tortilla is supposed to be spread out, not folded.

Michael Chavez
Cherokee Street, LLC

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 06 22 New Beginnings - For my blog any way...

Hello everybody!  Welcome back to my blog.  I haven’t written in a while because I have decided to take my blog in a new direction; and I just had to decide how and where I want to take it.   

So I have decided this:  In my ventures, customer service had always been a component of everywhere I have ever worked, so I have decided that I am going to write about my #CustomerService experiences based off of what I see around Albuquerque, and give compliments to where I see compliments are due, and give my feedback where feedback is due.

I will be calling out actual companies here in #Albuquerque; and so I hope, that these companies will take the information they see here with a grain of salt and use this as a free tool to hopefully better their customer service experience rather than to try to take me to the cleaners for “talking smack.”   My goal is to always move forward; never to “bash”.  I will write on my experience, and I will simply list how I would have handled the situation as if I were on the other side of the counter (especially if the solution wouldn’t cost the company any money what so ever).

I have been a long time advocate of Albuquerque, and the #tourism industry we as a city are trying to build, and the only way Albuquerque is going to do that is thru the “experience” our visitors have during their visit here in Albuquerque.  The fine folks at the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau #see_albuquerque do a fine job of marketing Albuquerque, however it’s going to be up to us, as the folks that actually live and work here, to make it an experience for them!

A little bit if background for those of you who don’t know me, or are new to this #blog.  My name is Michael D. Chavez.  (Not to confuse yourself with the 9Million other michael chavez’s here in Albuquerque.) I have been in the Investigative, Security and Law Enforcement field my entire working career. 

My resume has landed me some pretty prestigious positions in the security field here in Albuquerque; and it seems like every time I have taken over a “security” department, I was eventually given the oversight of “customer service” experience after these companies have seen how I am able to, not just “deal” with the customers, but to deliver a positive customer service experience.   Companies like the Sheraton Old town, (now the #HotelAlbuquerque at Old Town), Allied Barton / Citigroup, The #AlbuquerqueConventionCenter; and many others that would take too long to list.  You can check out my website at www.CherokeeSt.comfor a complete list of every company I have ever worked with.

Anyhow, stay tuned for many segments to come on the customer service experience here in Albuquerque.  My goal is 3 fold with this series.  #1, to correct the customer service experience I have personally experienced.  #2 for everyone who reads my blog to learn from the customer service mistakes I have experienced, and #3 to spot light those who I have experienced excellent customer service from.

I will, from time to time, allow several guests experts in the customer service field to blog on my site as well. 

I am a customer, and I love being one!  And those who are my customers, I want you to love being one as well! 

I look forward to seeing you here!

Michael D. Chavez
President / CEO
Cherokee Street, LLC