The World’s Best Customer Experience: The Tuna Paradox

Sometimes you have to get creative and sometimes you just have to manipulate someone to get the level of experience you want. Saturday required me to do both.

I arrived at the diner at 10:30 that morning. I scanned the menu and realized I wasn’t very hungry. The waitress asked for my order. “Toast and tea,” I said.

“We don’t just sell toast,” she replied. I began to count the number of items on the breakfast menu that came with toast—I pointed out that there were 16 of them. “Yes, but you have to order the item. We’re not going to just sell you toast.”

The gauntlet had been tossed rudely at my feet. I could leave or I could accept the challenge. I chose not to leave. I did, however, notice that the lunch menu offered a tuna sandwich that was less expensive than any of the breakfast items that came with toast.

“May I have the tuna sandwich toasted?”

“I suppose we could toast it,” she told me. “What comes on it?” I asked her. “Tomato, lettuce, and sliced pickles.” I began to reel her in. “Okay, let me have it without the pickles.” She made a notation on her pad. I aimed that meant she wasn’t able to simply memorize such a complex order and tell the guy behind the counter. Apparently, this evening’s Mensa meeting would require one less chair.

I eyed the toaster. “Come to think of it, hold the tomato and the lettuce.” “So, you want just the tuna sandwich?”

“Toasted,” I reminded her. “One more thing, can you make the tuna sandwich without the tuna?” Game, set, and match!

While I waited for my toast I also had my most enjoyable customer experience ever although it was not with a firm anyone would ever associate with providing good or even fair customer experience.

I had received my bill from Comcast for cable television. It took less than five minutes to learn that I could subscribe to YouTube TV, watch all of the channels I like to watch, and save beaucoup money. And so I called the Mothership. I was able to speak with someone after only twenty minutes of prompts and being on hold. A digital message informed me that my call was important and that it was so important that Comcast may record it for quality purposes.

Maybe they would learn something.

“How much would it cost if I canceled the cable and just kept the internet?” I kid you not…eleven minutes passed while this purveyor of digital services tried to Devine the answer to my question.

“Do you have a relative who works at a diner?” I asked him. He did not understand my question, and rather than taxing him further, I made the following remark; “You sell two things, cable and internet. I have cable and internet. If you subtract the cost of the cable, what is the price of the internet?” A tuna sandwich without the tuna, I wanted to tell him.

When he couldn’t do the math I hung up the phone and ate my toast. The toast was worth every penny I paid simply to have gotten my way.

And so the great experience to which I had referred was earlier today when I walked into the Comcast office with a box containing my DVR devices and remotes. I canceled my cable service. I felt so good canceling Comcast that I was tempted to resubscribe just for the pleasure of canceling it again.

I should mention that I also learned that I could get internet for less than half of the price Comcast was charging me.

And so I called the Mothership’s customer service line again and I said, “I subscribe to your internet service. What would my monthly bill amount be if I canceled my internet service?”

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