Customer Service Gone Right

It’s sad just how quickly people can rattle off bad customer service experiences, and I know I have plenty of first-hand horror stories I can share. That’s why I’m making a point of sharing a great customer service experience I recently had at a sandwich and bakery chain called Panera.

Panera list

I’m lactose intolerant, and I’m pretty good at remembering to ask whether or not there’s dairy in the food I order when I’m out at restaurants. Occasionally I forget, or in this case I failed to ask if the breads Panera makes include milk in the recipes. After I ate half of my sandwich I remembered to ask, and guess what? Several of them do — including the bread on my sandwich (honey wheat, in case you’re keeping score at home).

The manager I happened to ask pulled out a massive tome and listed off all of the breads they make dairy free, and even went so far as to write them all down for me. She wanted to make me a new sandwich, but that didn’t seem right since I forgot to ask and they made exactly what I asked for. She then insisted on giving me new bread for my sandwich and refused to let me pay.

Yes, I know it was in her best interest to go out of her way to take care of me since we live in a lawsuit-happy culture. Not that I’m all about lawsuits, but she didn’t know that. I could tell that wasn’t why she went out of her way to make sure I was happy; she genuinely wanted to take care of me.

I’m a fickle consumer. I dump stores and restaurants faster than Kim Kardashian runs through marriages. All based on a single bad experience. I’m retail’s worst nightmare. OK, maybe I’m not quite that bad, but I can do a really stern look.

I could’ve walked away from Panera unhappy and in search of a new sandwich shop had the manager acted indifferent to my lame dietary needs. Instead, through a simple act, she ensured I’ll be back.

Now to get Panera to work on their crappy Wi-Fi speeds. No really. I can get better bandwidth from a carrier pigeon.

And in case you’re curious, or lactose intolerant, here’s Panera’s list of dairy-free breads:

  • Country
  • Rye
  • Sesame
  • Ciabatta
  • Focaccia
  • Baguette
  • French
  • Sourdough
  • Tomato Basil
  • Whole Grain

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