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  • Writer's pictureChris Bloomquist

Donuts & Free Smiles on a Sleepless Night


Let me start with this giant disclaimer: I am not an accredited food critic. I am many things: a father, business owner, Lego enthusiast and serial optimist, but food critic is not on the professional credentials sheet. Don't get me wrong, I take pride in my cookie baking (instant pudding is my secret), I know a good ahi tuna sear when I see one, and yes, I do make a mean guac when called upon. However, the "food critic" moniker will likely never fall upon my nameplate.


That being said, for those of you that know me best, whether it be in my personal or professional life, I AM a self-proclaimed expert on what it feels like to experience excellent customer service. If I had to provide a list of credentials, admittedly they come more from the school of "hard knocks" than any official institution or certification program. Experiences like bagging groceries at age 15, waiting tables at a collegiate haunt at 3 AM, and nearly 20 years of professional recruitment helps me appreciate, and give substance to the role of "credible source."


I list all of this pomp and circumstance, because just when you think it's hard to find truly GREAT customer service these days, the kind that would inspire one to write an unscripted, unplanned article at 7 AM on a Friday, I want the world to know, that today, "John" at Top Pot Donuts truly answered the call.


The backstory is as follows:

  • I woke up at 4 AM and couldn't sleep.

  • I entered my 40s this year, and my recent marathon training is making my body feel closer to 70 every day.

  • I didn't just want, but NEEDED a coffee to survive today.

I walk in at 6:05 AM and I was greeted by a genuine, "Hey, I recognize you as a semi regular and welcome back" kind of smile. Immediately I'm "home." Then, I briefly mentioned how I had a sleepless night, and I needed a coffee to wake up.


His response? Instant, genuine empathy. "No problem, I've been there." he said. "Tell you what, the donut is on me. Happy Friday." He then made my coffee, and without declaring it gave me a few extra stamps for my weary eyes to appreciate.


WOW...I mean what a great start to an otherwise dreadful day! It was pay it forward time for me the rest of the walk back: "good mornings" to every person walking by, a smile on my face for feeling appreciated and understood, and a sense of "how bad can the world be" when a kind barista takes 30 seconds to appreciate, respond and help out.


Take that mindset to the airlines. What if every time you had a bad boarding experience, the flight attendant offered a free drink on the house? Or an Uber driver gave you the last few miles gratis because they were five minutes late?


How about a recruiter spending five more minutes on the phone to get to know you as a person? What if they tried coaching you up on your career possibilities, gave free market intel and invest in YOU, rather than asking for your top three skills and treating you like a commoditized resume with a voice?


"John at Top Pot," I salute you. Perhaps this small snippet will inspire you to give a little extra to the next person you work with, and remind us all of how the simplest gestures can lead to exemplary customer experiences, one worth writing about.


And in this case, it was as simple as a donut.

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