The Sign at the Gateway to Hell Says: “The Coffee Machine Is Broke”

Our guest blogger this week is Leila Martin, Account and Purchasing Manager here at Superior Graphics:

Coffee. Some love it, some hate it and some just love the smell of it.  You can add cream or sugar, drink it black, make it any way you want to make your morning yours.  I have tried to quit drinking coffee just to see if I can, but 4 days of hell with a migraine doesn’t seem like a smart idea when it’s obvious coffee likes me too.  Coffee is part of our morning ritual.  It’s familiar.  It’s bold (or weak if you’re one of those but don’t worry we love you all the same) and more importantly whether you had time to get your morning coffee fix at home or on the road to work you know one thing to be true…

…coffee will be waiting for you at the office. Until the Armageddon-like terror that came upon us Wednesday last week at Superior Graphics.  Our coffee machine BROKE.

coffee pot broken

That hand written “out of order” sign taped to the unplugged coffee machine is the most sad and disheartening thing you can see in the morning. So I called our coffee company (to remain nameless) and reported our coffee machine’s need for repair. They asked what the issue was, “The machine won’t stop running water as if the shut off sensor isn’t working.”  They were very concerned that I was standing in a puddle of water just watching it come out like a beautiful golden waterfall and asked if I needed to know how to turn off the water (so sweet of them), unfortunately this wasn’t our first rodeo, we knew how to do that much.  They assured me that someone would contact me to let me know when they’d be out.  Now, if you’re in the coffee business, your customers like coffee, no…they love coffee.  They rely on you to keep them from choking other people out because we’re not all morning people.  So naturally you would assume they would realize the dire situation we were in.  They did not.  Thursday came – still no call to  let us know when someone would be out to take a look at our machine, so I called my rep (I keep his business card handy) and asked him when they’d be out, and while he wants to be helpful, he doesn’t handle the scheduling.  So he offered to call in and ask them to get back with me.   This time I received an email – great!  That means things are in motion, we are that much closer to caffeinated joy!

But nothing happened Thursday. No casualties either I am very proud to report!  So Friday morning I call in to the scheduler, Velma* (*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.  Also John forced me to).  She informs me that Bob will be by with a new machine that same day.  This news makes me really excited and I ask if Bob is a hugger because I just may hug this stranger if he can fix our coffee machine.  Velma said she had no idea because it was his first day and she didn’t know him but would like to know about the hugging preference herself.  So I asked when this great guy Bob would be by?  (Schedulers should know that right?)  I kid you not, Velma then says to me “Well he’s got a few other service calls before you,” (not a good week for this company?) “but if he’s not there by 4 this afternoon call me back and remind me to put you on the schedule for Monday.”  My confidence in Velma and the possibly huggable Bob now waned…and I had a job to do for Velma?!  How is it my responsibility to do the scheduling, I don’t get a paycheck from their company!

Thankfully, Bob did show up – he didn’t have the machine we needed that worked with all of the coffee pots we had, but he showed up. So he had to go get the correct machine.  Bob actually came back that same day and replaced our machine, it was around 4:30pm when it was all set up.  So after he was gone we brewed a pot of coffee – and the same thing happened.  Water kept coming out of the machine (it seemed it wasn’t calibrated to the coffee pot size we had and brewed an extra 2.5 cups of water.  Yes, we tested the limits because we wanted to know how to rig coffee out of this blasted machine).  It was before 5pm so I called the scheduler again – no answer.  Called my rep – he answered and said he would make sure we were first on the list Monday morning.  Monday came and no call, email or technician to be had.  Nothing.  But the next morning, I remembered a sweet saleswoman from a coffee/refreshments company who was literally around the corner from us who had come by.  Surely they would treat us better than this!  So I called and they sent someone over within the hour.  I call him Savior of All That Is Good and Caffeinated but others call him David.  My plan was to get a machine from this new company and once everything was set up and working – call the undesirables and let them know they could pick up all of their stuff just like a bad breakup.  But then David broke the news that he was going on vacation for a week starting that night and it would most likely be a week and a half before he could get a machine installed.  “Okay, that’s fine, we’ll get through it until then I just want someone new.”  A couple hours later David calls me, imagine that?  He used a phone to call me with an update.  Velma could learn a few things from him.  He has a machine and if I want him to he will come right over and install it before he goes on vacation.  And that he did.  It was a simpler machine than we had before, which was fine.  We never really understood who would use the “half brew” button on the old machine anyway.  So once we were good to go and coffee rich, I called the old company to break up.  But I had decided to break up in the most pleasant way possible just to find out how they handle this kind of situation in an unprovoked state.

I called the main number and a rather irritable sounding woman answered the phone, “Hello, I need to talk to someone about my service,” I said. “What KIND of machine?!  Ice, coffee, vending – ”

“Oh I apologize, coffee machine, I should have mentioned that.” She then transfers me back to my old friend Velma who answers the phone sounding like she had been hibernating in a deep sleep since the last time we spoke.  I explain the situation of the new machine not working and no one coming out after I called.  “Well the last time I see we had you scheduled was for service on your machine Friday.”  Nice.  So I explained my call to my rep who assured me that someone would be out first thing Monday.  “Well I was off Monday,” Velma explains.  “Oh so, when you’re on vacation there’s no one to cover your job?” I ask – still trying to hold onto that nice demeanor.  “Apparently not,” was the exasperated response.  “Well, I don’t want a service call, I would like to cancel our service and have this machine picked up.”  I didn’t get a real reaction from Velma when I said this.  Nothing to try and save the relationship we’ve had for years – nothing at all.  “Well I don’t handle that, I’ll have to transfer you.”  So she did just that and the gentleman that answered the phone asked how he could help me in the most clear and loud ‘take charge’ voice and I thought “okay this guy will get things done.”  No, he didn’t.  He didn’t care either.  In fact, after I explained everything that led to this moment his only question was “Can I send someone by first thing in the morning to pick up the machine, is that okay with you?”

First thing? Why can’t service calls be as prompt as the breakup collection?

“You are more than welcome to do that, but I’ll be floored if someone is here first thing to get the machine when I couldn’t even get someone out to service it for 2 days.”  He didn’t even verbally flinch, he just asked again if I’d be okay with that arrangement.  And someone was by mid-morning to collect everything, leaving behind 1 coffee pot that I figure we’ll dispose of in some kind of bonfire like you do with bad breakups.  And do you want to guess what I received that same afternoon?  An email from the undesirable coffee company informing me of the service call I was scheduled for.

When offering a service of any kind, be it coffee, printing or packaging materials – service is what counts. Service is what sets us apart from the other guys.  When issues arise, it’s how the customer is left feeling when it’s resolved that counts.  Are they left feeling like one of the hundreds of accounts in line for attention when you feel like giving it to them or do they get the warm fuzzy feeling like they really matter and you really care about them?  It can make or break a business relationship.

If you want that same warm fuzzy feeling, call me and I’ll give you David’s number.

All better now.

All better now.


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