Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dear Tim... A rant about customer service

It is no secret that I'm basically a whore when it comes to a good cup of coffee.

It is also no secret that I put Tim Hortons at the top of my list when it comes to getting a good cup of good coffee.

If you don't know me well, or are doubting the accuracy of those first two statements, please see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

So, Tim... Why is it that when I walk into your restaurant (and can watch the nice lady behind the counter) and order a bagel double-toasted that you put it through the toaster 2 times, just like I ordered.

BUT, when I go through the drive thru and order a bagel double-toasted that you invariable hand to me out the window a bagel which is not only not double-toasted, but that obviously hasn't been in the toaster long enough to get warm?


Does it have to do with getting my order out to me quickly? If so, I'm not in a hurry. I am aware when I order said double-toasted bagel that it take twice as long to run it through the toaster twice. I'm happy to wait.

Does it have to do with keeping me from slowing up the line and making other customers wait? I typically go through the drive-through well after the "morning rush", and doubt this is the case... but if that is the reason, please just tell me that if I want my bagel torched I need to come inside.

Or does it have to do with the fact that I'm going through the drive thru and you know that it doesn't really matter what you hand me out the window because I'm not going to go to the trouble to turn around and complain about a bagel which only cost me a buck twenty-five.

I have a deep seated irritation that this might be the case.

Now... before you go accusing me of having "one bad experience" or "just hitting you on a morning that you were off", let me just go ahead and say that this happens to me almost every time I go through the drive-thru and order a bagel at ALL of the Tim Hortons in a 20 mile radius of my house.

  • Walk in. AND
  • Order a double-toasted bagel.
  • Receive a bagel which is crunchy and slightly charred
    (just how I like it)
  • Go through drive-thru. AND
  • Order a double-toasted bagel.
  • Receive a bagel which is chewy, and possibly warm.
    (still very edible... just not what I ordered).

Am I going to stop going to Tim Hortons? No, obviously not... Despite the bagel fiasco, they still make the best cup-of-coffee on the block.

Am I going to stop ordering bagels through the drive through? No, probably not. There is nothing wrong with a slightly warm, chewy bagel... It just isn't as good as a slightly charred, crunchy bagel.

Am I actually going to complain to Tim Hortons? Call the manager? Send a nasty email? No, probably not. My frustrations are pretty much worked out now that I've vented.

The coffee was great this morning. The slightly warm, yet chewy bagel will hold me off until lunch.

Rant over.

Back to shaving the yak.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Link Love

While reading blogs this evening I came across two that were just too good not to share.

I am a regular reader (if seldom commenter) of both of these blogs.

  1. Travis Spencer had some weird animal issues.

    I literally laughed out loud when I read this one, and the poll at the end is great!

  2. Terrace Crawford made an observation about the difference between men and women.

    Although I don't shop at GAP, I still found this observation fairly accurate (and funny).

Great stuff guys!

Monday, August 25, 2008

On shaving the yak.

There is a chapter in one of my favorite books... I won't mention the name of the book here out of the simple desire to not have my solar plexus caved in by an atomic elbow...

Anyway, there is a chapter in one of my favorite books in which the two main characters, Joshua and Levi, are living in a monastery, and the abbot is giving them instructions and the following occurs...

"Monk Number Twenty-two," Gaspar said to Joshua, "you shall begin by learning how to sit."
"I can sit," I said.
"And you, Number Twenty-one, will shave the yak."
"That's just an expression, right?"
It wasn't.

A yak is an extremely large, extremely hairy, buffalolike animal with dangerous-looking black horns. If you've ever seen a water buffalo, imagine it wearing a full-body wig that drags the ground. Now sprinkle it with musk, manure, and sour milk: you've got yourself a yak...

The yak provided just enough milk and cheese to remind the monks that they didn't get enough milk and cheese from one yak for twenty-two monks. The animal also provided a long, course wool which needed to be harvested twice a year. This venerated duty, along with combing all the crap and grass and burrs out of the wool, fell to me. There's not much to know about yaks beyond that, except for one important fact that Gaspar felt I needed to learn through practice: yaks hate to be shaved."
So, that is where this whole thing started (for me at least)...

The dismissive to "shave the yak" became sort of inside joke among my close friends (especially the ones who are also fans of this book).

Conversations would end with telling one another to shave the yak, emails and notes would bear yak shaving dismissive, and more than one time I have advised someone to shave the yak when what I really meant was that I wanted to be left alone.

How was I to know that the phrase "to shave the yak" was not only in common use among computer geeks and technophiles, but that the phrase actually describes an activity in which I am almost a daily participant.

During a random google search a few weeks ago I discovered that The Urban Dictionary offers the following definition for yak shaving.

Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several levels of recursion later, solves the real problem you're working on.

origin: MIT AI Lab, after 2000: orig. probably from a Ren & Stimpy episode

Seth Godin on his blog, expounded on the concept of yak shaving with this post...

Don't Shave That Yak!

The single best term I've learned this year.

Apparently turned into a computer term by the MIT media lab five years ago, yak shaving was recently referenced by my pal Joi Ito. (Link: Joi Ito's Web: Yak Shaving)

I want to give you the non-technical definition, and as is my wont, broaden it a bit.

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. "I want to wax the car today."

"Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I'll need to buy a new one at Home Depot."

"But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls."

"But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor's EZPass..."

"Bob won't lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though."

"And we haven't returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it."

And the next thing you know, you're at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

This yak shaving phenomenon tends to hit some people more than others, but what makes it particularly perverse is when groups of people get involved. It's bad enough when one person gets all up in arms yak shaving, but when you try to get a group of people together, you're just as likely to end up giving the yak a manicure.

Which is why solo entrepreneurs and small organizations are so much more likely to get stuff done. They have fewer yaks to shave.

So, what to do?

Don't go to Home Depot for the hose.

The minute you start walking down a path toward a yak shaving party, it's worth making a compromise. Doing it well now is much better than doing it perfectly later.

Hah! Who knew?

Where I work we tend to refer to yak shaving as "putting out fires", but regardless of the phrase I spend an incredible amount of time solving little problems in order to find solutions to the big ones. Often times we will intentionally break a large problem up into smaller ones just so that we can tackle it little bits at a time without getting overwhelmed by all the things that need done at any given time.

So, any other yak shavers out there?

If so, give a shout. I'd love to hear your yak shaving tales.

Monday Morning Update - August 25, 2008

With his permission, I've decided to swipe a concept from Marko and try to get back into blogging.

The plan is to post a new one of these at the top of every week. If you aren't interested or don't care then I'm not offended. This is mostly for me, so here we go...

Monday Morning Update - August 25, 2008

Where did the weekend go -

Jenn posted an excellent blog about how busy our weekend was. I won't repeat all that she had to say (you should go read it) but I will add that I also had a fantastic weekend!

Church was amazing on Sunday morning. The special music (go watch it here) along with Steve's message about the Liturgical Year made for one of the best services I can remember in recent months.

Also the entire weekend (football Friday night, through-out the day on Saturday, church on Sunday, lunch on Sunday afternoon, and the church's pool part/baptism celebration on Sunday night) were all filled with great conversations and great conversations (and the relationship building, which invariably follows) being two of my favorite things, I would have to rate the weekend as fantastic!

Where I am right now -

Unfortunately, this Monday morning like many others, finds me sitting at my desk, in my office at Horizon Chillicothe Telephone. This morning has been busy with phone calls, emails, meetings, and finding time to read blogs and news from the weekend. (as well as work on this one)

This week at a glance -

As far as I know we have no out of the ordinary plans this week. (Which means work during the day, and hang out at home with the fam in the evenings...)

For the past several weeks we've been having teens over for dinner and to hang out almost every evening, but with school starting and folks moving off to college that trend is slowing down.

This coming Friday night is our first home football game of the year, which means our first Fifth Quarter of the season as well. I also need to get into the church one night this week to update the MacPro.

Procrastination report -

I have been procrastinating about blogging for far far too long.

I am also quite the slacker in getting the church's podcast up to date. Hopefully admitting that here, will elicit some nagging and I will make time to do that today!

Book(s) I'm reading -

I have a horrible habit of picking up and re-reading books that I really like... I guess with that kind of habit, it is good that I'm a fast reader. Anyway... Now that you know about that habit, I have to admit that I picked up and read Lamb by Chris Moore again on Saturday (finished it last night).

What?!?! It's a great book!

I'm also reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne, which I'm sad to say is struggling to keep my attention... Also, I finished The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs while on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and I haven't gotten over it, or stopped leafing through it on an almost daily basis.

How I feel about the week ahead -

Relaxed about the week in general. A little stressed about getting the plan for Fifth Quarter in place soon enough to make it work.


Well, that wraps up my first Monday morning update. I have lots of blogs in the hopper, which I'm hoping to get published soon. For those of you who have been bugging me to get them done, please don't stop. It really is working.