Thursday, October 4, 2012

Awesome Customer Service: Panera Bread

Awesome Customer Service: Panera Bread

Keeping in the same vain of my prior post about "making things right" when they go awry, I'd like to send an internet shout out to Panera Bread. I am not one to sign up for a lot of programs, because I prefer not to add to the high volume of my inbox, and furthermore, I rarely even remember to have the cards available when I frequent an establishment, so it just turns into a colossal waste of time, for them and for me. But, I've recently made an exception for Panera Bread.

I must admit that I have sipped and basked in the kool-aid of Starbucks. I tend to make them my "go to" place to post up and work on my computer, but now, they have gotten a run for their money, because I've been frequenting Panera Bread more often. Don't get me wrong, there are two Starbuck locations I frequent on a regular basis, and the team is just kickbutt! However, it's not the cleanest, they are ALWAYS busy, and the coffee, well, it's fine (since I'm not a coffee connoisseur), but it isn't wonderful.

A few months ago, in the early summer, I had a couple of meetings at various Panera Bread locations. I found that I loved the following about all of the establishments I frequented: the employees seem to actually LIKE their job, (for the most part) they were clean and easy to move around in, the coffee had times on when they were last brewed (which appeared to be pretty frequently), the food I've had has always been great, and it's just a nice place to be.

Well, I had forgotten about those experiences during the summer, and Panera Bread simply drifted back into the recesses of my mind, until recently. I was digging around in the little pockets of my checkbook, and I found the "MyPanera" reward card tucked in there; never having been activated or used. Now mind you, I still didn't activate it, but it was on my mind. Fast forward a few days later, and I read a fabulous story called, "It's more important to be kind than clever!" ( I don't know WHAT it is, but I've been reading some great "feel good" stories lately, and this one was added to that list.

So, I decided to venture to a Panera Bread store that is close to my house. I went in, ordered a bagel with cream cheese, and a coffee. Well, the young lady helping me was quick, nice, funny and gracious. As I was standing there, another lady, a bit older, came behind the counter and began offering some breakfast items for free. She indicated that they were going to be "tossed" so they were giving them away. I politely declined, since I'd already placed an order, to which she said I was more than welcome to take it with me. I did let her know that was nice, but that I didn't need to be a piggy, and someone else could benefit from the free offer, but I thanked her profusely for the generous offer.

That just ROCKS to me. It was the early afternoon, they didn't have to give anything away, yet, they were offering items that may go to waste, gratis, to their customers. I don't know about you, but I like that concept, and it makes me want to support their company more now than ever.

The whole experience brought to mind a quote I read some time ago, but I keep it on my desktop as a day-to-day reminder, "People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."  Tony Hsieh - Zappos CEO.

 When I am in Panera Bread, I feel good.

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