Friday, March 26, 2010

Cars, Cherries & Coffee--My experience with Biggby

Go To -- Chris Theisen’s "blog"

Last month I was nearing a trip to my birth state of Michigan when I saw a tweet mentioning Michigan Cherry coffee. Not only do I love Michigan cherries, I enjoy coffee now and again. I inquired about the coffee and found out that a company called Biggby offered it. My sister works and lives in Lansing, the home of Biggby, so I had heard of them. Nearing my trip I searched Biggby's website and noticed a location close to where I was traveling. My wife and I couldnt wait to pair two of our favorite things, cherries and coffee.
After a longer than expected stay we needed to make the 4 hour trip from Ann Arbor back to Noblesville. We decided to forgo the stop to the local Biggby and get on the road. A little way down the road we decided the call of cherries and coffee was too strong for us to ignore. We needed to find a Biggby. Not knowing the area I had to pull out my handy HTC Hero to find a location. I had a tough time navigating their mobile site. The site wasnt optimized for mobile phones. The map gave me major hassles. There were so many locations around that the flag markers all ran together. I tried searching for Jackson (the next town down the road) and was sent to locations in Alabama. Yes there is a Jackson, Alabama but I already did a Michigan search. I got completely annoyed with the site, turned off my browser and was bummed about my lack of Michigan Cherry coffee.

As soon as I turned off my browser I turned on Twitter. I sent a tweet that stated, Biggby Coffee you lost a customer tonight due to your mobile site. I didnt know if they had an account. I have taken to mentioning brands without their account to test if they are listening properly or not. Its a thing I do since part of my job is brand monitoring and awareness. I heard nothing back from that tweet. The next day I happened to find out Biggby's CEO Bob Fish had his own Twitter account, @biggbybob, through a tweet from another person I followed from Michigan. It turned out Bob had a pretty good following. I check his tweet stream and he seemed to engage with his followers and probably managed his own account. This was at once encouraging and troubling. I was encouraged that a CEO of a growing company would engage with followers personally. I was troubled that someone who understood Twitter didnt see my tweet and/or didnt respond.

It was now my mission to get Bob to listen to me or respond. Getting customer feedback (and insight on their habits) is one of the main reasons to be on Twitter. I had valuable free advice that he should be interested in not to mention that I put negative information about his brand in the Twittersphere. I sent Bob an @ message. The next morning I received a direct message (Twitter email so to speak) from Bob asking that I email him with my issue. Again I was encouraged and troubled. I was encouraged the CEO of a growing regional company would reach out to me. I was also troubled that someone who engaged and understood customer service online wouldnt engage me publically. Public engagement and acknowledgment of company shortcomings goes alot longer in the new media world than addressing the issue one on one privately.

I proceeded to email Bob my soapbox social media engagement, brand monitoring diatribe. As you can imaging by this post it was sort of long. There was alot of criticism, albeit all constructive. My intention was to give Bob insight he may not have had or open his eyes to other ways his company could leverage technology they already deployed.

I received an email back from Bob that was thoughtful and thanked me for my effort and constructive criticism. I was extremely impressed with Bob's response. He stated that he agreed with my assessment of their mobile site. He mentioned they were a year behind on this initiative, but had one in the works. Not only did he respond to me but he copied his VP of Operations and a few others within the company. Impressive to say the least.

The next email I received I did not expect. Their VP of Operations, Tom Butz, stated they normally monitor their brand but somehow my tweet slipped through the cracks. Tom offered to send me some Michigan Cherry free of charge. I was thrilled! It wasnt necessary but I took him up on the offer. Not only did Biggby engage with me, they continued engaging in the days after our initial contact. They truly cared about what I had to say and werent just blowing me off. I found out that Tom had lived in the next town north for 8 years. Its a small world indeed.

A week or so later I received not one but TWO bags of Michigan Cherry grounds. They smelled delicious before I ever opened the bags. I couldnt wait to brew it! You would've thought we were opening a rare vintage, my wife and I were so excited to try this coffee after all of this. The coffee didnt disappoint. I looked forward to coming home and having coffee. My wife swears by it now. I enjoy it alot but she always finds an excuse to make some. The smell and taste of cherries takes me back to my Michigan youth. A truly great coffee drinking experience!

Im not sure if Biggby has incorporated any of my ideas I presented them. I hope they do if they havent already. Regardless Biggby understands customer service, interaction and engagement. I do wish Bob and the company would've heard or interacted with me in a more public fashion so they could've gotten the credit they truly deserve. This blog post is my way of repaying them and giving them their due credit for listening and responding honestly to a nobody from Noblesville. Heres to Biggby Coffee, Bob Fish and Tom Butz. Now when are you opening in Indiana?

Go To -- Chris Theisen’s "blog"


Daniel Rose said...

This is THE Biggby experience.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your experience turned into a positive one and you & your wife became Michigan Cherry fans! You are right though Chris! Indiana NEEDS a BIGGBY! Thanks for sharing! sd

halfbakedmusings said...

Those of you who have nothing better to do then read my lame posts on this blog realize my antipathy for modern technology. In this gentleman's post we have Exhibit A for my antipathy. OK...first we have something called a what? A store locater optimized for a cell phone that doesn't work? Followed by a tweet that wasn't immediately answered? Say what?

C'mon, what's wrong with Verizon 411 connect? Yes, I do have a cell phone. Calling information has worked for me for decades. You know...

"Jackson, Michigan please. I need the number of Biggby (B-i-g-g-b-y) Coffee. No, there are two g's. B-i-g-g-b-y."

But I guess I will have to mourn the passing of this simple way of finding where things are as I have mourned the passing of the rotary dial phone, PDA's and dial-up internet service (not!).

Unknown said...

Bob we have a fan page for Biggby coffee. yes we are fans! Take a look if you would. Hope to see you in SC!

Anonymous said...


Let me know when you get some partners together I will come help open your BIGGBY in Noblesville, Zionsville, Carmel you name it and I will be there - love central Indiana!

Thank you for taking the time to write your blog.

Tom Butz

Unknown said...

After a year I finally realized that Bob shared my post here on the page, should've checked my Google Analytics before now :) I was speaking with someone in franchise development at Biggby just last week in regards to this blog, hopefully our discussions lead to some Biggby's in central Indiana. In regards to halfbaked's response while you can use other services to find the answer the issue lies in the method I chose to use didn't provide the functionality it should have. You can't tell your customers "why don't you use a different method to find the answer?" What works for you and how other people access information will never be the same. Even if I had called 411, had them connect me, paid the fee (is it free?) I woudlve needed to stay on the line with them until I made it to the store. Not the seamless experience I had hoped for or expected. Love Biggby now and am a huge fan and supporter. Kudos to them for the handling of the situation.