How much will a bad $4 tap beer cost BWW?

Buffalo Wild Wings Review Logo Bayshore MallSo late last night my wife and I decided to go out for a drink.  We hadn’t seen each other much this week and we were both in pretty good spirits.  Our first choice was closed for the night, so we decided to make a stop at another  Bayshore Mall favorite, Buffalo Wild Wings.  We go there all the time.  We’re both wing nuts. She and her Medium-flavored boneless, and I and my traditional Hot BBQ and Caribbean Jerk.  My mouth waters just thinking about it. Anna has a particular affection for their Strawberry Daiquiri (make it a double), and they’ve got a large selection of beer on tap. Ironically, for the selection they have, I sometimes have a hard time finding one of my favorites. When we first started going there right after it opened a year ago, the service was consistently mediocre (at best).  It has been improving over time, but our experience last night was remarkable. Remarkably bad.

Bayshore Buffalo Wild Wings, you’ve been spied.

We arrived at the relatively dead restaurant around 10:30pm and were half-greeted by a hostess saying we could seat ourselves. As we were in good spirits, we didn’t give this much thought and proceeded to a booth by the window. We were pleasantly greeted by our waitress, who for the sake of keeping the innocent nameless, will remain as such.  She was great.  We placed our order on her first visit–some fries, 6 wings, a daiquiri, and a tall New Glarus Totally Naked.  Although it’s not one of my favorite beers, for my taste, it’s among the best tap options there. Before finalizing the order, she verified that they still had that beer.  They did.  Hats off to her for double checking this.  Our drinks and snack arrived quickly, and we enjoyed a great time. Talking, laughing, drinking. All the things that make for being in a good mood. When the waitress cleared the empty trays, she asked if we needed anything else.  Looking at Anna’s still half-full daiquiri and my empty beer glass, I opted for a second. This is where things turned south.

The Totally Naked wasn’t totally hitting the spot tonight so I thought I’d get something else for my second round.  Rather than have the server work through a list, I decided to take a hike from our seat to the bar to see what was available. Yes, it’s actually a big place. It’s a hike.  I saw a tap handle for a local beer that looked familiar. A beer I had a Summerfest.  Or so I thought. (Being a local brewery that I actually like, I won’t name the beer.) I ordered a tall, the waitress put it on our bill, and I made the return journey to my seat. It looked great. Nice pour. About a one inch head. When I took my first sip, my taste buds revolted.  If they weren’t confined to my mouth, they would have probably run away with my nose following close behind. It was awful.  However, I’ve tried enough new beers to know not to rule out a beer by the first sip.  Some of my favorites had to grow on me.  I drank again.  There was no balancing going on here. More revolt.  My brain is saying, “Ok, Brian, this is in your head. It can’t be that bad. Keep drinking. You’ll get used to it. It’ll be fine.” I took another drink, this time with more commitment.  Revolt. It was like Tienanmen Square in 1989. My mouth was laying down in front of the tanks.  There would be no more drinking of this beer.

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I didn’t like the beer.

Keep in mind now that I’m in great spirits.  A great mood. My beer is bad, but I’m still having fun. I look around for my server to see if there’s any chance of a replacement. I don’t see her.  As we talk, I continue to be on the lookout for the waitress.  After about 5 minutes, I gave up and make the trek back to the bar. As luck would have it, Katelyn (sp?), the manager, along with my waitress and the bartender were all there.  Remember, I’m in a good mood. Not a drunk “good mood” (I only had one beer), but an honest-to-goodness, having-a-great-time, good mood. My tone of voice should reflect this. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me (to the bartender): “Hi, I just ordered this beer, and it’s apparently not what I thought it was.  I really don’t like it. I gave few sips to make sure, but I really can’t drink it.”
Bartender: Unsure what to do, he looks over at the manager. “He doesnt’ like his beer.”
Me (to the manager): “Yeah it’s apparently not what I thought it was.  I really don’t like it. I gave few sips to make sure, but I just really can’t drink it.”
Katelyn: “Well, is there something wrong with it?”
“Since it’s not what I thought it was, and I’ve never had it before, I wouldn’t really know.”
“Well is it flat or skunked?”
“No it’s not flat, and I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. I’ve never had it. It might be exactly how it supposed to be. I wouldn’t know.”
“Well, if there was something wrong with it, I could replace it, but if you just don’t like it, there’s nothing I can do.”
Slight jaw drop. Eyebrows slightly raised.  Stare.  “Really?”
“Yes, if there’s nothing wrong with it ….”
“So you won’t replace it?”
“Not if it’s just that you don’t like it.”
Jaw drops slightly more.  I notice my waitress and the bartender looking very uncomfortable at this point. “Ok, then.”

I could have been “that guy” and got what I wanted, but not wanting to sour my mood, I was too nice.  I left my $4 beer on the bar and walked back to the table.

Having witnessed the entire conversation, my waitress rushed over to our table and began apologizing profusely.  I assured her that I didn’t blame her at all. She had nothing to do with it. She returned again a couple moments later continuing to apologize. I reassured her that I didn’t fault her, and I told her that what her manager didn’t know is who she was dealing with. I said, “I’m active in social media and I’m a customer experience blogger.  I’ll definitely be writing a review.” The look on her face was priceless.

She proceeded to bring the bill, I paid (leaving a nice tip feeling bad for her), and wrote on the top of the receipt, “for your review, go to” We left. I hope she gave it to her manager. Katelyn, if you’re reading this, perhaps you should rethink your policy. I like your food, so I’ll be back, but how many people reading this article will take a pass?  How many people will see this on Twitter, Yelp, Urban Spoon, or Google Places?  How many people are you going to lose over that $4 beer? I know a certain CX Consultant available for hire. You might want to think about it.


I took the matter to twitter this morning with this tweet to get some insight from others.  Was it odd for me to simply hope for a replacement? Should I have expected one? Was this common practice among bars and restaurants? I needed some backup to confirm my suspicions. Thanks to @anthonypsherman @tossasoccerdad @bootyp and @bradkoenig  for your insights.


Here’s the irony of the situation.  I didn’t expect a replacement.  I hoped for one. My history there has shown me that Buffalo Wild Wings needs to learn a thing or two about the customer service aspect of their experience. As a matter of fact, had a replacement been given, I probably would have been just a likely to write a review about how they had finally gotten it together, did a great job, and exceeded my expectations.

Customer Experience Lessons

  • Great CX is in the details.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Many times you don’t.
  • A small gesture to exceed expectations will make for a remarkably good experience.
  • Ultimately this was a failure of policy.
  • Recognize the “make or break” moments.
So, Bayshore Buffalo Wild Wings, what will be the true cost of that $4 tap beer?

Facebook plays Apple in Predictive Customer Experience

At today’s F8 Developer Conference, Facebook successfully demonstrated one of the key components of remarkable customer experience. Read on.

In full disclosure, I’m not a Facebook fan boy. I more often give them a “whatever” than an “atta boy.”  I’ve had my profile there for about 5 years, I post occasionally, and I comment sporadically. Mostly for me, it’s just there. Having said that ….

Facebook just hit a grand slam.

With the introduction of Timeline and the new Open Graph Apps they have just legitimized Facebook as a way to chronicle your life in a complete, “frictionless” fashion. If that was all they did, they would have hit a homerun.   From my point of view they did two much more significant things:

  • They showed the innovative spirit of a long-lasting company.
  • They gave us a awesome product we didn’t know we wanted. They predicted a need.

The former indicates that they will be around long-term. A much needed reassurance if I’m going to let them help me write my life story. The ability for a massive industry leader with 800 millions users to stay on the cutting edge of it’s own market is the most important key to it’s long term success. They won’t be going the way of Palm, Blackberry, MySpace, or AOL. At least not anytime soon.

The latter is where they played an Apple. They met a need we did’t know we had. Apple has done this over and over. Each new device meets a new need and/or creates a new market. Without the iPad, there IS no tablet market. They’re not listening to their customers. They’d be way behind the curve if they did. They are predicting their customer’s needs, and providing the solution before the need become apparent. Apple, and now Facebook, is doing this on a grand, product-wide scale, but it doesn’t have to be so grand to have remarkable effects. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that can make a big difference.

Having your people, product, processes, and policies customer-focused is the cake of customer experience strategy. Need prediction is at the frosting.  It’s what gets people’s attention,and gets them talking.  Meeting a need your customer didn’t know they had shows them that you are genuinely interested in helping them.  You’ve got to have the substance, or the frosting is meaningless.  The cake will bring you loyalty, but the frosting gets people talking. If you want to stand above your crowded market, predict your customer’s need and create a point within their experience to meet that need.

Don’t just build a better mousetrap, send ’em the cheese.

Now what do you have to add?

4 P’s of the Customer Experience Management Puzzle

Brian Mayer's Customer Experience Puzzle Graphic[This is the first of a series of 5 articles detailing what I see as the 4 main components of a customer’s experience. When the other 4 will come, I have no idea.]

When I throw out the term “Customer Experience” many people (and businesses) immediately jump to customer service or the experiential environments of a restaurant or amusement park.  Though these are ceratianly a part of CX, when you really boil it down, they are just scratching the surface.  Wikipedia defines CX as:

…  the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context.

This obviously goes much further than the touch points that one may first consider.  I see four interconnected components of CX. In order to successfully optimize and manage a customer’s experience, a cohesive, proactive strategy involving each of these areas must be developed, executed, and managed.  I’ll do a brief overview here with a more in-depth look at each in the balance of the article series.


This is the obvious one.  Every company realizes that their front-line employees (sales reps, CSR’s, service techs) have a big impact or either making or breaking a customer’s experience; however, do you consider how everyone in your organization may play a part?


You may have wonderful people, but if your product doesn’t work as expected, … major CX fail.  The product may be an actual physical product, a related component such as instructions, or alternatively a service provided. Regardless of what it is, it makes you money.  It better be great.


A well-run business may have great people and a great product or service, but if the process for getting to those people or that product is flawed or cumbersome, you’ll fall short. More often that not, this would involve external processes such as your retail environment, website, marketing, PR, or call management.  However, it could also relate to certain internal processes as well.


All too often, a company’s policies prevent their people from executing a great experience. This comes to mind in retail with exchange policies, in banking with fee policies, or in any business with rigid, nonsensical “cya” legal policies. Beyond that, it may not be your “people policies” but rather “product policies” that effect the manufacture of your product or execution of your service.

Why develop and implement a customer experience strategy incorporating these elements?

Companies need every competitive advantage they can get to create and sustain a loyal and evangelistic customer base.  Building a better mousetrap will only get you so far. Your customer’s overall experience is what will determine whether or not they return and more importantly what and how often they they tell others.  Don’t leave their experience to chance.

As we take a more in-depth look into each of these components over the next four posts, we’ll explore

  • The importance of each component and how it relates to the others
  • How people, product, process, and policy function differently yet work together
  • My experiences with and observations of companies that do a particular component well and with some that don’t
In order to capture the breadth of a customer’s total experience, the company’s people, products, processes and policies need to reflect the expectations, needs and desires of the customer in a way that signals to them that they matter.

Subscribe now and follow @thecxguy on twitter so you don’t miss out on the rest of the series!

Potential of Personalized Customer Experience with LBS?

A thought-provoking article on the potential for a personalized and engaged customer experience by leveraging the consumer data of Location Based Services and combining it with purchase history.

Location-Based Services And The Customer Lifecycle | BrandSavant.

I see a lot of “what-ifs” coming out of this ….

  • What if the Starbucks mobile app recorded your purchase history when you use it to pay?
  • What if, that same app grabbed your 4sq data via their API?
  • What if the Starbucks app then customized offers for you based on both check-ins and purchase history?
  • What if it wasn’t Starbucks but a wallet app or even Visa that used NFC for payments?.

What do you think?

Alone in a Crowd

Twitter is ablaze today with reactions to the passing of Trey Pennington. With over 110,000 Twitter followers and 5,000 Facebook friends, he was by all accounts a social media marketing A-lister. I followed him on twitter, but other than that I didn’t know him. My thoughts on the situation really have less to do with the who, than with the why of the situation. The reports that I have seen trace the reason back to depression and the resulting loneliness. This struck a chord with me as I have battled each of these. What I’m about to share is very personal and hard to admit. I didn’t set out to write this; somehow it just happened, but I feel compelled to share it and hopefully start a conversation.

I’ve never felt suicidal, but I know what it’s like to be alone in a crowd.

My personality is such that I am very comfortable in crowds. I love networking. I love meeting new people. I never want to miss a tweetup. I can pretty much talk to anybody about anything. I love a party. I remember names easily. I make a lot of connections, know a lot of people, and I’m great at connecting the people I know with each other. Most people who know me in these environments would probably think that relationships come naturally for me and that I have a lot of friends. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact is, I’ve had trouble building deep, long-term relationships my entire life.  I’ve had and currently have a few casual friends for whom I am truly thankful (more recently thanks to Twitter 🙂 ), but other than my wife, none that I would consider a “best friend.” For most of my life, I just ignored it thinking it didn’t matter.  I’ve made excuses from time to time about being busy, the fact that relationships take time or just that I hadn’t met anyone that I thought was “best friend material,” but the reality is that those were just that–excuses.  To me, building friendships is like a dance where you never know if you’re supposed to be leading or following.  For those of us who succumb to our insecurity, we don’t want to take the lead for fear of rejection.  We don’t want to impose. We don’t want to be seen as needy. We’re not “needy,” we’re just … lonely.

So why do I admit this? Why be so vulnerable? Why risk a reputation? Will some people think less of me for posting this? Probably. Do I post this because I’m looking for sympathy or some sort of reaction or because I’m hoping that my new bff will be reading this article? No. That’s not my style. I’m writing this because I am undoubtedly speaking for many people who are in the same boat, but feel weird admitting it.

If you need a friend, know this–you’re not alone.

Your thoughts?

BIG Milwaukee Tweetup | Getting started with Twitter

This is a reprint of an article I wrote nearly a year and a half ago (4/23/2010) as a review about my experience at my very first tweetup.  I’ve come along way on twitter since then, and that event was a huge part of it.  Thanks Milwaukee for welcoming me. You’ve changed my life. A few of the tweeps mentioned below have faded off, but some have become good friends. I have edited a couple of minor details (twitter handle changes), but for the most part, it’s as I wrote it then. In a follow-up post (or perhaps a series), I’ll write about the journey since.

In short,  tweetups turn your tweeps into your peeps.  Go.

Now for the back-story.

As we have recently begun to use Twitter (@annamayerphoto and @brian_mayer) as an active part of our marketing strategy, I have been seeking out the best methods for taking advantage of this somewhat daunting and unruly beast. We got a great boost with @annamayerphoto being an official tweeter for the Real Simple 10th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago. However, as a service business directed at a local clientele, we really wanted to expand our twitter presence locally. To do that, we would have to find the right people to follow and get as many targeted followers as we could.  I honestly didn’t have a clue on how to get started, but I’ll explain my approach.

First, I spent a day searching Twitter for #Milwaukee and #mke and looking through profiles and tweets to find those with relevant relationships.  I followed some prominent tweeters, but I also looked for users that had a lower number of followers and weren’t following too many themselves. I hoped that our follows, replies, and mentions might be more noticeable.

Second, I used the “nearby tweets” function of the Tweetie iPhone app to find people and businesses who were actually in our immediate area. I found a few to be a great springboard, so I thought I’d show a little love:

@StoneCreekSteve @DeannaInnis @Mserita @bizatty @ShopWFB @brennanMKE @erinulicki

I used this base as a place to look and see who others were following locally.  Through this process, I came upon a tweet promoting the BIG #MilwaukeeTweetup.  Of course, everyone knows that if “BIG” is in the title, it must be big, right?  I thought, “Hey that might be cool,” but really had no idea.  I followed the host @tweetupgirls to track the event action.  There seemed to be an indication that it might be worth the time invested, so I took a gamble and RSVP’d.

BIG #MilwaukeeTweetup: Reviewed by a rookie

I showed up to Swig (@swigmilwaukee) a hip joint in Milwaukee’s Third Ward and found the group easily. I went upstairs and was immediately welcomed by one of the @tweetupgirls Jeanette (@j_sosh) and one of the sponsors @robertjames1 (First Priority Printing in Mequon).   Keep in mind that I was not only a newbie to tweetups, but was also to this type of networking.  I was able to ask Jeanette and Rob about how it worked, proper protocol, etc . . . and they were both very helpful.  It was definitely not an insiders’ club. I was given a name badge that included my name and Twitter handle on a lanyard. I was also given a canvas bag with some info from the sponsors.

While I’m not one to shy away from talking to total strangers, I was very hungry so I made a bee-line to the food.  Swig provided the food as a sponsor of the event and it was fantastic!  I wish I could have eaten more, and I will definitely be back for a meal.  The shrimp in particular was outstanding.  There was a cash bar with cocktails, beer, and wine reasonably priced at $3-6 as well as complimentary soft drinks. However, wanting to keep my hands free, I didn’t take advantage of that until later.

The room was moderately lit, relatively crowded and loud with about 100 attendees.  Conversations were bar-like in their volume.  As I began milling around, I found that attendees were very friendly, open and welcoming.  I tried to tweet @ mentions as I met people in order to continue contact beyond the event. I found that to be a bit of a distraction and began to simply take a photo of the person’s name tag with my phone’s camera. However, my phone battery was running low so I  had to resort to the low tech method of  writing stuff down.  How old school is that?

Over the course of the next few hours, I talked to 15-20 people. They varied from web developers and social media mavens to business owners and broadcast professionals.  It truly was an A-list of Milwaukee’s Twitter presence.  Not only did I feel the evening was worth the time, I think it will be a moment I look back on as an important one in the building of our business network in Milwaukee.

What would I do differently next time?

  • Have business cards with our Twitter handles @annamayerphoto and @brian_mayer on them
  • Make sure my phone was properly charged, duh!
  • Eat something before I came–the food was great but it was a distraction.

Now, I don’t think just any tweetup would bring the same level of success, but based on my experience, I would say that it’s definitely worth your time.  Furthermore, I would strongly recommend that any Milwaukee business who is serious about using Twitter as part of their marketing strategy to attend any tweetup hosted by the @tweetupgirls.  I’ve heard that the next one is on June 3. I’ll be there in my signature grey fedora. Feel free to find me and introduce yourself.

Here’s just a few of my new peeps

@triveraguy: Thanks for introducing me to Mixero.  I love it!
@triveragirl: Great meeting you.  Thanks for newbie help!
@jims1973: Awesome guy. Checkout his
@katiefelten: Katie runs (@mkelive )[EDIT: Katie has moved on from MKELive to be the Community Manager at Hashable.]
@tcmeister: His twit bio rocks.  He’s at Net Solutions Group.
@philgerb: He is an awesome, down to earth twitteroligist.