Saturday, May 10, 2008

Doing what you don't have to do

I think Lewis Black is funny, especially his riff on the proliferation of Starbucks coffee stores. But I like Starbucks, too. They do a lot of things right, such as support for sustainable agriculture and the fair trade movement, and stock options for all employees. Yesterday I learned about one more. If you're in the drive-through and you have to wait while they brew a fresh pot, your joe is on the house. I didn't wait long - only a minute - and I was going to use my birthday gift card anyway. But that's their policy and it's a good way to make friends with your customers.

A similar thing happened a few years ago with the Taylor Guitar company. I have two of their guitars and I like the way they do business. Their instruments are beautiful and well-crafted. They're also concerned about the shortage of guitar woods and with replenishing forests. I received a t-shirt as a gift but it was too large. I exchanged it, but they accidentally sent another one in the same size. When I returned that one, they sent me the right size along with a free CD of guitar music they produced.

This is the same philosophy I use at the library when someone has trouble with our print system. Printing, especially from web pages, can be tricky. Sometimes only the advertising banners are printed or the margins are cut off. I try to fix the problem, then print another for free. But I'll give free prints for other reasons, too; if they had trouble figuring out the print system, or they mistyped their login name and couldn't call up their print jobs, or they had difficulty downloading the picture they wanted to print. Our printing fees pay for the system and its supplies, so a few freebies once in a while aren't going to break us. I'd rather make a friend for the library.

OK, time to hit the drive-through!


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