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?

Stone Creek Coffee gets Customer Service

So I’m enough of a regular at the Stone Creek Coffee in Whitefish Bay that I’m the mayor there on Foursquare. The manager there, Kendra (@stonecreekkb), is truly one of the best baristas I’ve seen anywhere. Before going to vote today, I made a quick stop there with Milwaukee’s best children’s photographer (@annamayerphoto). Today, Anna was jonesin’ for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, which at Stone Creek includes a bit of Oregon Chai. Now Kendra, knowing that Anna prefers the Rishi Chai over the Oregon Chai (because she is the best), offered to make it with Rishi instead. It sounded interesting, so in an uncharacteristically adventurous move, Anna went for it. Of course it was hot, so she couldn’t taste it immeditately to offer any feedback.

About 2 minutes into our drive to the polling place, she tried it only discover that it was awful! I believe the reaction was something like, “Aw, phlaw, yuck! That tastes like soap!” I could be wrong as it was very fast and slurred, but I believe I’ve got the gist of it. She tried a couple more sips to see if it was just he shock of the different chai, but with every sip, it was just as bad. In an effort to save the day, I took a sip. Uh….no. Tired a couple more sips, and … no. This drink was not working with this chai. As awful as, it was I don’t fault Kendra, but rather applaud her for offering the drink. I have no doubt that if this scenario would have occurred in the store, she would have remade the drink in a heartbeat. But, alas, we weren’t in the store; we were 2 miles away. That’s where Stone Creek gets it, and what makes this story bloggable.

After voting, we went to the Glendale Stone Creek to get a replacement since it was right by our polling place.  As we were at a different store where we are not regulars, we fully intended to buy a new drink.  On the off chance they might offer a replacement we brought in the still-somewhat-relatively-warm, aforementioned beverage. We were warmly greeted by both baristas. I wish I would have gotten their names.  Maybe we could just give them good Wisconsin names.  Let’s call them Mark and Amber.  🙂  After just a very brief explanation, Mark began remaking the drink.  No hesitation. No questions. No-brainer.  Just good service.  The conversation that ensued among the four of us during the remake was one that cemented in my mind that Stone Creek Coffee GETS customer service.

Oh, and new Pumpkin Spice Latte? It was everything it was supposed to be 🙂

Stone Creek, you’ve been spied: Thumbs up.

Misadventures with a Drywall Contractor, Part 2: A Rough Start

[Story continued from Misadventures with a Drywall Contractor, Part 1: Getting Started]

Day 1: The Hack Job

Just after 9 the next morning (10/12), Rick showed up with his assistant, Mike.  We discussed the job a bit, he gave me his plan of action and they proceeded to bring in the materials. Two things didn’t sit right with me.  First, anybody who handles drywall knows that it’s prone to breakage and must be stacked neatly to avoid damage.  The drywall stack was anything but neat.  Many panels were offset in the stack by 2-3 inches with a couple around 6″.   Second, to allow a space for the ceiling drywall to sit on top of the wall drywall, he was having his assistant cut the top off of each wall panel . . . by hand—razor and jab saw.  Can you say “hack job”?  I just rolled with it, figuring they knew what they were doing and it would probably be getting covered up later anyway. After all, that’s why I hired someone, right?  When they returned from lunch, they worked together using a combination of cutting blades, a jab saw and a cordless mini-jigsaw.  Did it ever occur to them, that it probably would have just been easier just to unscrew the drywall, take it down, trim it like normal the put it back up? The whole room would have been trimmed in about 30 minutes.  Doubting myself, I let them do their thing.  All they got done in one entire day was cutting the tops off of the drywall in one room. Fortunately, I wasn’t paying them by the hour.

Day 2: The Realization

Next morning the guys show up and starting hanging the Sheetrock.  It was immediately apparent to me that this was not going to be a pretty process—broken pieces, smashed sheet corners, uneven joints.    At this point I was starting to doubt my decision, but in times like this I tend to blame myself.  Anna was noticing the poor workmanship, and starting saying things to me. I very much tend to give people the benefit of the doubt—to a fault I suppose. I made some excuses for them, figuring they had to work around my DIY framing that might not be perfect. At the end two days the only thing complete was the ceiling in one small bedroom and a little more hacking on the walls in the next bedroom.

Not a good start.

…wait it gets better … (cont)

Misadventures with a Drywall Contractor, Part 1: Getting Started

Ok, so I’ve been in the process of building out my basement for a little over a year. Ok more like a year and a half. I’ve done 95% of it myself, but when it came down to doing the mudding and taping, I thought it best to leave that up to someone who knows what they’re doing. Much in construction can be forgiven in the later stages, but the mud/tape job will be visible forever. Furthermore, we had initially decided to forgo drywalling the ceiling, but a last minute change prompted us to add this to the drywall contracting bid. I had in mind to spend about $1000 for the mud/tape, and figured (based on previous estimates of doing the entire drywall job) that the ceiling drywall would about double that. At this point, it was worth it to me to have the project finished and done right.

I went through the drill of calling contractors from Angie’s List to come out and bid on the job. I started with the guys that previously bid on the entire drywall job. I liked one guy in particular, Rick of New Life Home Improvements in Bayside, because not only did he compliment my work (always feels nice), but he seemed competent and completed the estimate on the spot. I liked that. I hate the waiting game. I had one other guy quote as well, but his quote came in at over $4000. Guy #3 never called back, and I wanted to get going. Guy #1, Rick, bid the job at $1800 and gave a timeline of 4-5 days. On Thursday, 10/7 we said, “go.” I gave him the deposit of $600 and we agreed on a start date of 10/20. He was finishing up another job, and I had a bit of construction to do to prepare (furring the ceiling and framing a soffit), so the two week lead time was good.

There was much cheering and excitement.

To my pleasant surprise I received a call the following Monday morning. A supplier had sent the wrong showerpan for his other job, so if I wanted, he could start the following day. I just went with my gut and said, sure, I can get all my construction done in a day (ha ha). The race was on. (Anna would later inform me that this was a bad decision). I busted my butt all day and well into the night building, and clearing rooms to get the space ready.  I didn’t get everything done that I needed to, but I figured I’d just stay one step ahead.

I was excited! It was time to finish this basement ….

… to be continued

Edit: Now on to Part 2

a work in progress

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