Freelance Writer: Brand Loyalty, Empathy, and Coffee

I’ve mentioned to friends and family that working as a freelance writer  makes me more understanding of service providers I use.  I have to be the recipient of truly rude and reprehensible customer service to get growly right back.

Brand loyalty is earned not just by consistently great service, but when things don’t always go as planned.

For example … I love coffee.   I look forward to every aspect:  grinding the beans every morning, hearing the coffeemaker brewing, and, of course, drinking it.  One of my favorite coffee companies is Clive Coffee, which is based in Portland, and was founded in 2009.  Mark Hellwegg, Clive Coffee’s owner, roasts coffee in small batches and sells coffee/espresso equipment specifically for home use.   I order coffee directly from Clive Coffee, and have it mailed to me.*

A couple of months ago, I placed my order, and I received a confirmation e-mail immediately, as usual.  Then I waited.  And waited some more.  Usually, the shipping confirmation comes within three days.  My coffee supply began to dwindle.

I left a voice mail, and Mark Hellwegg e-mailed right away.   A seriocomic set of events followed …  printing labels were printed, but shipping labels weren’t … I waited some more and began seriously running out of coffee.

In fact, I began drinking my “last resort” supply of hotel room coffee pods, ah, acquired for me by various relatives and in-laws.

“Help me, Mark Hellwegg, you’re my only hope!”  was how I ended another e-mail.

Sure, I could have gone to the store and bought another brand.  But then I’d be only a few days into that bag when the bag of Clive Coffee got to me.  Coffee is best enjoyed when it’s fresh!  And, really, I had my mind set on Clive Coffee.  Brand loyalty means that much to me.

It turns out that Mark’s business was going through some growing pains.  But my patience soon paid off.   I received not one, but two bags of coffee beans for the price of one, and free shipping.

I could have gotten angry or Mark could have gotten defensive.  Neither happened.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and he did everything in his power to make things right.  And make them right he did, and then some.

We’re used to blaming the other guy, and don’t consider what it must be like for the person on the receiving end.  We just focus on our own pain or, worse, our inconvenience.  But every service provider (or employee, for that matter) is entitled to a mistake or a bad day … and a chance to fix it.

So if you hire someone this holiday season or in the new year, and the product or service is not what you expected, take a deep breath, and give the person a chance to make it right.

My precious ...

P.S.  I placed another order with Clive Coffee just a couple of weeks ago.  Everything went as smoothly as the lovely Lovejoy Espresso Blend I’m currently enjoying, 🙂

*I could pick it up, but it would cost me about $5 in gas.  This is how I rationalize such acquisitions to myself!

4 thoughts on “Freelance Writer: Brand Loyalty, Empathy, and Coffee”

  1. I agree so important to give people/brands another chance — and like you I get pretty devoted to certain providers of all things, like you do. (plus as a fellow coffee lover, I'm now so curious about Clive Coffee!! May need to order some…)

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