An open letter to Circle K-
You were on the verge of winning a fan back this week. Your Diamondbacks strikeout deal was a brilliant play to bring me back into your store and show me how much you’ve changed, and how you’re willing to learn from the competition in order to better yourself. You now have a much expanded menu of items on your grill that are quite tasty, and you’ve created combos that are quite compelling.
Next time I’m hungry for that type of food though, I’m probably going to drive past several of your stores and go to QuikTrip instead. The problem is that while you’ve learned so much about what the market, you consistently fail on what is most important to myself and so many others – consistent, excellent service. Allow me to elaborate.
Last week I redeemed the strikeout code for a free $3 combo – 2 grill items, chips, and a drink. Your employee at Power and Chandler Heights recognized that I was a little out of my element and pointed me at the free items without me having to ask. As I was reflecting on a great customer service experience that has unfortunately become all too uncommon these days, I took my first bite of the Jalepeno hot dog I had selected only to be greeted with the flavor and juiciness of a hot dog that has sat on the grill for WAY too long. It was dry, tough, and just didn’t taste good. It was the same with my other hot dog.
Yesterday I decided to redeem my free drink code at McClintock and Ray. I was hungry, so while I was there I inspected the grill items and determined that several of the options were fresh, so I tried again with a Jalepeno hot dog and a Ranch Chicken Stick (sorry, can’t remember the exact name here). I ended up getting my items, but not without some issue with the free drink code that left me with the impression that I was a burden to the checkout clerk. The items though were excellent and were at least on par with what QuikTrip has to offer.
That brings me to today, and why I will likely drive by your stores next time I’m hungry and in a hurry. As I became hungry this morning I realized I didn’t bring a lunch and the grill items from the day before were sounding pretty good, so I headed back to the same store, this time hoping to take advantage of the buy one get one free grill item code that I had texted for twice but had not yet received. The grill items were showing the early signs of being too old, but I decided to take the risk anyway. Upon checkout I mentioned the code and that I hadn’t received a text back even though I had sent it twice. The checkout clerk checked with the store manager who said he couldn’t do anything without the code (more on this in a minute), and so I agreed to pay the regular price for the items since it was still a reasonably good deal.
Except it wasn’t. I was charged a la cart pricing for each of my items and when I questioned it I was told that the combo deal that was given away for free the previous week was no longer available. On top of that I should have followed my instincts regarding the age of the grill items and walked away because they were just ok. Not as bad as my first experience, but nowhere close to something I would buy again.
This isn’t about the extra dollar I was charged. This is about a passionate pursuit of excellent customer service, and that includes a minimal amount of quality control to make sure that expired grill items are thrown away before a customer has a chance to have a bad experience. At the outset I said that you almost earned a fan back and the key word there is back. You see, I used to be a loyal customer, but for years now I can’t remember a single time where any of what I’ve described above has happened at QuikTrip, and that is how they won my business away from you in the first place. I’ve stopped at QuikTrip at the most obscure hours, and they’ve always had fresh grill items, ultra-quick and courteous checkouts, and not once have any of their employees had to consult a manager for anything.
I don’t hold a grudge against you… if anything it’s quite the opposite. I look to you as the hometown team that needs a push to be the best they can be. Believe me, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have bothered to write this.