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When getting a grilled cheese is impossible, we all lose

. Pete

Today is Crepes Friday.

Most days, I work in downtown Chicago. SHC has offices in a couple buildings there, but no cafeteria facilities. This isn't a problem because there's a multitude of places to eat within an iPad's throw of the office. I could probably find a place that made a great grilled cheese, but in a nerdy way I reserve that particular pleasure for that once-a-week trip out to our suburban campus.

When I roll into Hoffman Estates, lunch is always whatever soup catches my eye, some kind of not-good-for-me Starbucks cold drink, and a grilled cheese. White bread, american cheese, a few strips of bacon, and a little love. I try not to actively abuse my body with the things I eat, but I am powerfully drawn in by the cheese/bacon combo. It was with such lust in my heart that I started out for lunch today. We have a large campus here in “The Hoff”, so you plan your trips.

The food here is very good. Lots of choices, happy people, and several locations sprinkled throughout the campus. Fresh from several meetings and fueled with a powerful appetite, I started the sojourn to what we call The Small Cafe, home of my beloved grilled cheese. The Small Cafe is miles closer to the UX department than The Big Cafe is.

Imagine my shock when I finally arrived and learned that today was “Crepes Friday!” at The Small Cafe.

I'm an adult, and remained calm. I'm also flexible, and because of my job I have to roll with things and make compromises in the face of adversity. Intrepid, I approached the counter. It was late, so most of the lunch crowd was here and gone, all creped out, I suppose. "Can I get a grilled cheese? With bacon?" I asked, all smiles.

"Today is Crepes Friday! Only Crepes today." The café employee replied.

My brow knit. Maybe even furled.

"I see the grill right there. Can I get a grilled cheese?" In a show of instant disloyalty to my convictions, I had ditched the idea of bacon, eager to get at least a basic grilled cheese. The friendly employee looked a little taken aback, told me to wait just a moment, and left the line, turning around the corner. I also stepped to the side and in moments the very friendly Cafe manager was with me.

"Only Crepes today," the manager said, beaming.

I looked over her shoulder at the grill and fully-stocked bread rack. "Can I get a grilled cheese? I'm looking right at the grill and the bread." I said this in my best helpful tone, not being a jerk.

"I'm really sorry. Today is Crepes Friday. Only crepes today. You can go the Big Cafe and get a grilled cheese, if you'd like."

In fact, I could. But now I didn't want one. I dis-liked, in fact.

I was a silly, stupid customer. I knew what I wanted, could plainly see that they had what I wanted, and desperately wanted to buy from them. To keep a loyal customer all they had to do was throw a couple pieces of Kraft Select between two slices of bread on a grill, all within arms reach. It was tough for them to take my money. It was against the rules. It was Crepes Friday.

No soup for you, Pete Simon. Or grilled cheese.

The thing is, I wonder how often we do this to our customers. I wonder how often we wear blinders, and miss an opportunity to let people give us their money. I wonder how often a devotion to some convention or easy path causes us to lose a customer who was in our store or on our site, money in hand.

I don't have any control over the menu at The Small Cafe. I do have some influence over experience at catalog.sears.com , and I can only hope that I do a good job of making the design open, approachable, and adoptable. If someone comes to me willing to engage, I want to do everything I can to take care of them, and nurture their interest.

Or their love of grilled cheese. With bacon.

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4 Comments:

At 8/20/2010 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Steve Finnell said...

you are invited tom follow my blog

 

At 8/20/2010 01:47:00 PM, Blogger Pete said...

Um, thanks Steve. Stop spamming our blog, okay?

 

At 8/20/2010 02:18:00 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

Classic example of following order down to the letter, meanwhile completely forget about the spirit of the job, isn't it?

 

At 9/14/2010 01:26:00 PM, OpenID aimeegoudas said...

Killer grilled cheese at Petterino's (on dearborn, North of office). With just enough tomato soup to dip it in.
I get mine with bacon, tomato and avocado.
Enjoy.

 

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