Tonight, I got a lesson in great customer experience at a very unsuspecting place, Java Detour in Bakersfield, CA. We were returning to our hotel after a nice dinner with my wife’s family when we spotted a little drive thru coffee spot on the corner. Julianne is a big coffee fan, so we stopped in.
We were greeted at the window by a spunky twenty-something in a stocking cap that I’ll call Janice. When she asked for our drinks, I mentioned off hand that it was our first time and we needed a minute to check out the menu.
With the enthusiasm of an evangelist speaking to someone who has never heard of Jesus, Janice exclaimed, “Your first time here???!! Are you from out of town?” Her tone suggested that this was THE place to get coffee in Bakersfield and SURELY we must be from out of town if not another planet if this was our first time here.
After some enjoyable small talk, she said, “So, are you Starbucks people?” When we answered in the affirmative, she playfully said, “Ok, that helps me know how to explain our drinks, but that is the last time we’ll say the “S” word, ok?”
I’m not a coffee guy so I ordered a small hot chocolate (I know, very mature choice). Then Julianne started in with her order. She and Janice went back and forth in coffee-speak for what seemed like at least 4 or 5 minutes (remember I am a simple hot chocolate guy) in an effort to get the order just right.
Finally, confident that she had Julianne’s order perfected, she turned to the kids. “I hear children’s voices in the back, what do they want to order?” When we told her the kids weren’t gonna order anything at this late hour, she said, “Can I give them some lolly pops on the house?”
How could we refuse?
With a smile, Janice turned and began making our drinks. She returned a few minutes later and introduced us to her pastry selection. When we told her we had just finished a big dinner, she said, “Oh, but you have to try these. Its gonna be free. We have apple nut, blueberry, poppyseed…” Julianne and I looked at each other in unbelief as she continued the litany of selections:
“Did she say free?”
It was all as if she were hosting us at her house and it would simply be rude to refuse her kind offer. We told her we’d take a blueberry and had to twist her arm to limit our free pastries to a single muffin. And these weren’t just any muffins, these were super-sized Costco-esque muffins, on the house!
A few minutes later, she returned with our drinks, which were obviously not the smalls we had ordered, but super-extra-huge size drinks to go along with our free muffin, our 5 lollypops, AND stickers for the kids.
Before I drove off, I did something I have never done before at a coffee stand, I left a tip. Janice hadn’t just sold us coffee, but she had created an extraordinary experience. It was actually quite amazing. But the truly amazing part was what happened next.
As we were driving away, the entire atmosphere of our rental mini-van had transformed. A few minutes before, we were a group of worn out travelers trying to straggle to our hotel room. Now, we were a rejuvenated van full of Java Detour disciples with smiles all the way around. All because Janice had made the extra effort to give us a great experience.
Literally, before we were a mile down the road, Julianne had texted her sister and two sisters-in-law who were also in town to tell them to skip Starbucks in the A.M. and head straight to Java Detour.
When we got back to the hotel, my in-laws were in the parking lot and commented on our super-sized drinks. We recited our entire experience. As I type, Julianne is in the hot tub with more relatives and I bet you anything Java Detour comes up before the bubbles stop.
To top it off, I’m sitting in here at midnight on a Thursday writing a blog post about Java Detour. And I don’t even like coffee!!!
Thanks, Janice, for proving once again that creating a “wow” experience is the most effective and cheapest marketing that a company can provide. One person really can make all the difference.
And where are we and the other 3 families we’re traveling with going for coffee in the morning? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.