The Effortless Experience

Here’s my key take away from the 2014 ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference.

Matthew Dixon was one of our keynote speakers at the ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference. The video above is nearly identical to his keynote speech witout the Bill Rancic jokes. The speech covers the key ideas of their book, The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty.

It is by far the best book I’ve read this year. Seriously. It articulates a lot of the things that I’ve been feeling but haven’t been able to articulate. I always tell my friend Darcy that I have all of these opinions and gut feelings but have no way to prove them. I’ll usually make some kind of statement or claim. Sometimes Darcy agrees or disagrees but, since she’s the keeper of our call center statistics, she’s the one who actually crunches the data to either prove or disprove my claim. Besides that, Darcy is really good at running reports and gathering information. But I digress… The authors and their colleagues have actually done the research and their research proves what we have all probably known for a long time: a strategy of delight doesn’t pay, customer satisfaction is not a predictor of loyalty, customer service interactions tend to drive disloyalty (no matter what you do), and the key to mitigating customer disloyalty is by reducing customer effort.

Customer service providers just need to accept that customers don’t want to have to deal with us. They want to take care of their business as quickly and as effortless as possible and be on their merry way.

The book talks about the concept of next issue avoidance, which is something that I’ve been working on for a few years now. Ever since we started collecting data on our repeat calls, this has been a topic of interest for me. I’m so glad that here’s a school of thought now that focuses on next issue avoidance because it’s actually easier for me to wrap my head around that than first contact resolution.

For years I’ve been trying to get at first contact resolution and can’t quite seem to get a metric that makes sense so I started attacking it from the repeat calls perspective. After reading this book I feel somewhat validated. LOL.

Anyway, if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. It’s an easy read. I read most of it on the flight home from San Diego. The examples provided are timely and relevant, and it’s just an enjoyable read over all. Kudos to the authors and their colleagues who helped with the research and contributed to the book. I haven’t been this excited about learning something new in a long time. Thank you.

Metro Grill II

I’d been wanting to try Metro Grill II since they opened the restaurant but we hadn’t gotten around to it until recently. Brian and I hadn’t been eating out for one and, secondly, when we do eat out we end up using convenience as a key deciding factor. So we end up eating where we work, play, or are going to be rather than going out of our way for a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong. We have done that, but that’s not what usually happens.

Anyway, we fully intended to make something to eat at home yesterday but the stars just lined up for us to try Metro Grill. When we went to see grandma yesterday at Victoria Falls, we drove by the restaurant. It’s located just North of Kellogg in one of the commercial strips along Andover Road. So that’s where they’re located!

At that very moment it seemed as though a lightbulb materialized out of thin air over my head. “Why don’t we just have dinner there tonight?” I asked Brian. “I’d been wanting to try it.”

We arrive a little bit before six o’clock and there were no other customers yet. I think we were their first diners of the evening.

Here are some pictures that I took of their dessert display.





Even though the desserts looked fantastic, I was worried at first. “How good can this place be if there’s no one here at dinner service?” I wondered. However, three people showed up as we were mulling over the menu and other groups of diners trickled in as we were waiting for our food and while we were eating. We were just early I guess, but we are a couple of old farts and we prefer to eat dinner before seven. LOL.


By the time we left they actually had a decent dinner crowd. We didn’t linger. We just stayed long enough to eat our meals and then we bounced because we still had to move furniture around for my World Party Party and then we had to head over to the Candle Club to watch The Fabulous Fleshtones perform.

Here are some pictures of our dinner.


Brian had the Cuban, which he said is good but not as good as other Cuban sandwiches he’s had. He said they use dill pickles instead of sweet pickles, which gives the sandwich a slightly different flavor. Another thing that’s different about the Cuban at Metro Grill is the shoestring potatoes that you see sprinkled on top of the sandwich. Those are also inside.


I had the fontina chicken with mushrooms and asparagus. All of that served on top of white rice. I’m a rice eater (lover?) so that helped me decide what to have for dinner. They have a wide selection of menu items and when I checked FourSquare for recommendations it seemed like everything was good. If it weren’t for rice, I’d probably still be trying to decide what to have. LOL.

The flavors were delicious but the presentation of this dish was a little lacking. Everything seemed like it was just piled on top of one another. The plate they used to serve the dish is also quite small. After the pile of food and the bread on the side there’s barely any room to maneuver. I would recommend serving this dish on a bigger plate. I would probably leave the bread off too because I usually eat bread or I eat rice. It’s either or and not both. For me, anyways. Other people probably feel differently and it’s good to have options, I guess.


I’d been craving fruit salad since I ate the last of what was left of mom’s fruit salad so I ordered their fruit salad for dessert. It was good but it just seemed like a bunch of fruit mixed together. And, again, the presentation was blah. There really isn’t much there. With the beautiful desserts that were on display, I really hoped that this would come out prettier. You can’t even see the coconut shreds, which they put at the bottom of the bowl. I would have sprinkled that on top of the fruit salad.

Metro Grill II on Urbanspoon

I’m not sure how much thought went into deciding what fruits to use but, even though it looked like a bunch of fruit mixed together with no rhyme or reason, they were able to create a good cornucopia of flavors in my mouth. I specially liked that it had bits of mango. I mean, who doesn’t like mango?

Despite my critique of the presentation, I did eat every bit of the fruit salad. Brian didn’t want anything to do with it, and I thought it tasted good. I still prefer my mom’s fruit salad though.

The verdict? Metro Grill II is not bad. Definitely worth checking out if you’ve never been. I have mixed feelings about the value, though. I thought my dinner was priced appropriately, but I thought Brian’s sandwich was on the expensive side because it didn’t even come with any kind of side dish. They could have put a few leaves next to it to increase the perceived value. Brian probably wouldn’t have eaten it, but it would have appeared more complete.

The quality of the food you get for the price is decent, but the place isn’t exactly a “cheap” place to eat dinner. It’s kind of in between fast food and nice. So perfect if you want somewhere casual to eat but want something better than fast food.

Oh, and one last thing, though I’m not even sure if it’s worth mentioning because it’s kind of a given for any restaurant with an open kitchen. Don’t be surprised if you smell like your dinner when you leave.

The Depot Renaissance


I stayed at the Depot Renaissance while I was attending the MEA Customer Relations Roundtable in Minneapolis. I was thrilled to find out that the Depot is a Marriott property because it meant that I’d receive the great service that I’m used to and also earn some rewards points.


The room itself is small but tastefully decorated. And, I had an excellent view of the parking lot across the street (our recent stay at the Peabody Orlando has ruined me for life). LOL.


There’s a little desk which is perfect for doing some work.

Untitled Untitled

The bathroom area is tiny but it’s sufficient for a solo traveler. The space wouldn’t be enough for Brian and I to get ready together if he were traveling with me. Since I was alone, it worked out okay.

When I returned to my room the first night following the networking reception I was surprised to find the message light on my room phone lit up. I figured it was Brian checking on me because I sent him my room number. It turned out to be one of our long time blog followers who lived in the area. It was a little creepy but then I realized that I made the mistake of announcing my arrival to the world by checking into FourSquare so I wasn’t really that hard to track down.

Brian and I always chat at night whenever one of us is away from home so I told Brian what happened. He totally freaked out. It wasn’t enough that I called the front desk to instruct them not to give my room number to anyone and not to accept any more messages; Brian actually called down there himself to give them the low down and to ensure that my safety was a priority for the hotel. The person in charge at the concierge desk must have sensed Brian’s concern because she assured Brian that security would check my floor a couple of times more than normal each night.

I was extremely impressed with the way the hotel handled the situation. Although they had blocked all calls going to my room, each night that I would call for my 4 AM wake up call the next day, Brandon would give me an update. He’d be like, “You received another call again today. Would you like to move to another room?” The first night I had already unpacked all of my stuff (that’s the first thing I do as soon as I get to my room after checking in) and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of packing and unpacking again. Besides, he didn’t know which room I was in so it didn’t really matter. The next night it was more of the same but I told Brandon that I was checking out the next morning so it mattered even less. Nonetheless, I appreciated that they remembered Brian’s instructions. It wasn’t like they remembered the first night and promptly forgot about it. They continued to respect and protect my privacy throughout my stay. Seriously. Not only did they block all external calls, they blocked all calls going to my room. So when I had problems with my breakfast order not getting picked up from the previous night and I had to call down to check on my room service order a couple of times they totally acted like I didn’t exist. LOL.

The lady who brought my breakfast apologized for bringing orange juice instead of pineapple juice as I had requested. She said they were out and she tried to call my room to ask if orange juice would be okay but that the call would not go through. That’s actually when I realized that ALL calls were being blocked. Even the ones initiated by hotel staff.

I was a little cranky about the problems with my breakfast door hanger not getting picked up not once but twice but I couldn’t really stay mad because of the extreme care and professionalism with which the staff handled my delicate situation. It seemed to me that they had some prior experience with this sort of thing. Brian did tell me later that the lady he spoke with reassured him that they’ve dealt with situations like this before. I’m sure this happens a lot when celebrities stay somewhere because their fans would be calling and making their room phones ring incessantly and maybe even trying to track them down in their hotel rooms, but I doubt that those instances involved regular people like me. I felt kind of bad that they had to go through all that trouble to protect me when I wasn’t really all that concerned or fearful. Brian was more freaked out than I was, to be honest.

Anyway, I bet the hotel staff was relieved when I finally checked out because then they didn’t have to go through all the crazy call blocking, extra security, and stuff because I think they finally resorted to saying that they didn’t have any guests staying there by my name any time that anyone would call or ask for me. I’m sure it was quite challenging to serve an invisible guest so, in the end, I really couldn’t blame them for the problems I experienced with breakfast. I’m sure it had to do with no one being in my room or me not existing. LOL.

The Depot Renaissance

Huge thanks to the Depot Renaissance staff for a wonderful stay and for making me feel like a celebrity. Even just for a few days.

The Pub Orlando

While Ching was in one of her classes I decided to go roam around outside the hotel and see if I could find a good place for lunch. I was really wanting to find some Cuban restaurant but there weren’t any close. I ended up going to a place called “The Pub”. I looked it up on Urbanspoon and it had high ratings so I figured why not.

New photo added to "Camera Roll"

Once I got in there it ended up being a really nice place. The bartender was really nice and helped me choose a really good beer. Luckily they bottle it and I can get it here in Wichita. Unlike the Sam Adams Brick Red that I really like that you can only get on tap and only in Boston Bars.

New photo added to "Camera Roll"
I decided on a ham sandwich that was on a pretzel bun. It ended up being really good. the fries were also really good. I love think cut fries.

New photo added to "Camera Roll"

The beer the bartender suggested was really good. The only down side was I had not eaten in few hours and the Beer went right to my head. Luckily the food balanced me out for the walk back to the hotel.

I wish there was a Pub here in Wichita. I think it would make places like Fox and Hound step up their game.

The Pub Orlando on Urbanspoon

B-Line Diner

Brian and I ended up eating at B-Line Diner on our first night in Orlando because it rained. I had my heart set on taking the trolley to Oceanaire Seafood Room at Pointe Orlando but we didn’t want to walk outside because of the torrential downpour. It rained while we were getting some supplies at Walgreens and, by the time we arrived back at our hotel, we were both drenched.


Anyway, B-Line is conveniently located on the first floor of our hotel so we wouldn’t have to go outside. It was a no brainer. We put some dry clothes on and off we went.


Brian and I both love hummus so we decided to start with that. It was topped with some sort of kalamata olives tapenade, which made it really salty. I like salty stuff so it appealed to me. Brian didn’t care much for it. He would have much rather preferred a tub of Sabra. LOL.


For dinner we just split a chicken sandwich. We didn’t want any leftovers as our room wasn’t equipped with a microwave. You could request one from housekeeping, but the Peabody charges $20 extra per day for use of the microwave so it wasn’t worth it. Anyway, back to the sandwich. It had all the fixins including apple slices and a huge chunk of avocado. It was actually pretty good.


Splitting the chicken sandwich was actually a good move on our part because we wanted to save room for dessert. The B-Line has an extensive dessert selection. However, since Brian and I were sharing dessert, we couldn’t go too crazy. We ordered a slice of their Oreo chocolate mousse cake.

New photo added to "Camera Roll"

B-Line Diner on Urbanspoon

It was just okay. It tasted like something that you could get anywhere. There really wasn’t anything special about it. The dessert was probably my least favorite part of the meal.

The food at B-Line is actually pretty good. The location is extremely convenient, specially if you are staying at the Peabody or have a conference nearby at the Orange County Convention Center. The diner is also open 24 hours a day, which is a huge plus. The only downside is that the prices are quite high. Then again, that’s typical of everything in this area of Orlando so, after considering all of the other options, B-Line is probably a bargain. I wouldn’t mind eating there again next time we’re at the Peabody.

Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant

Darcy and I had dinner at Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant in Topeka last night. It was actually pretty yummy. I also got to try their raspberry wheat. Not as good as my peach limbic, but it was pretty good as beers go.


We shared the hummus starter. The orange color is because it’s made with chipotle and tomato. They make different types of hummus each day.


Their special on Monday night was almond encrusted tilapia. Darcy and I both ordered it, except she got hers with green beans.


I asked for black beans with mine.


Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I thought it was pretty good though the tilapia filet could have used more flavor. It was a little bland for my taste. And the presentation was somewhat lacking. Other than that, dinner was good. The hummus wasn’t the best, but it was delicious. You just had to ignore the bright orange color. LOL.

I may take Brian over there next time we’re in the area so he can try their beer. They have lots of other options on the menu that we can try also. And, the restaurant seemed pretty popular with the locals as the parking lot was quite full when we got there. Even on a Monday night. So that’s pretty good.

Granite City Meet-Up

Our boss decided to take the team from work out to dinner the other night. He said we had a rough 2012 and were going to have an even tougher 2013 so he wanted to show his appreciation by taking us all to dinner at Granite City. I personally love Granite City. Especially their 2-Pull Beer, lol

Here is some gratuitous food porn.






And of course, since we didn’t have to pay for anything we all got dessert.





All in all it was a good evening. We had some great conversations and tried really hard to just avoid work subjects. It didn’t really work, we ended up talking about work eventually but it was limited and short.

Granite City is one of may favorite places to drink…I mean eat.

Granite City Food & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Freddy’s Frozen Custard


We couldn’t figure out where to take the Orbases yesterday, but finally decided on Freddy’s Frozen Custard for several reasons. First off, it’s Brian’s favorite hamburger chain. Also, Freddy’s started in Wichita and Orbases have never been to a Freddy’s restaurant. The best part about Freddy’s — besides the shoestring fries — is that they opened their first restaurant in 2002, the same year that Brian and I got married. Freddy’s will always hold a special place in my heart and belly.


Since Freddy was in the Pacific during WWII, I also really like all of the photos they have displayed around the restaurant particularly the one right above Sam in this photo because it’s a memorial in Leyte.


Okay, I take that back. We liked all of the photos with the exception of the one at our table. Sam thought it was gross that they were in their bathing suits. She wanted us to sit at a different table instead. LOL.


Brian and I got our usual — a steakburger combo and hotdog add on. We always split the burger and the hotdog in half so we get to enjoy both with having to eat one of each, and we don’t end up eating too much of the fries which isn’t hard to do because they’re completely addictive.


The Orbases all had shakes, which they seemed to like. So that was good. Sam ate all of her hotdog and reassured us that she liked it because it’s rare for her to finish all of her food. Then, she adds that it’s rare for Cameron to NOT finish all of his food. That made the entire table laugh. Sam was full of zingers yesterday. Sheryll explained that is how she normally is after she warms up to people. She was really quiet and shy when they first arrived. By Sunday afternoon she was quite talkative.


Freddy's Frozen Custard on Urbanspoon

Clayton had the patty melt which he said reminded him a lot of Filipino beef steak (or bistek). He said the flavors and the way that the meat and onions were cooked were reminiscent of bistek. We speculated that Freddy must have been inspired by Filipino cuisine because of all the time he spent in the Philippines during the war. We got a jar of Freddy’s special fry seasoning for them to take back to Dallas so Clayton can recreate the Freddy’s steakburger experience back home. If anyone can do it, Clayton can.

Great Harvest Bread Co is Truly Great



Brian and I only had a limited amount of time after my Zumba class and before my waxing appointment so we decided to have lunch at Great Harvest rather than going all the way back home. We split the mile high panini sandwich. Though we hadn’t been there in ages, it’s the sandwich that we usually get there.


Great Harvest Bread Co. on Urbanspoon

I must say, it’s just as good as I remembered. If you’ve never been to Great Harvest, I highly recommend checking it out. They make the best breads here in Wichita, hands down. Their cinnamon burst bread has always been my favorite. They also make deliciously cheesy garlic bread sticks. They give everyone free samples of their freshly baked breads and they also give you a free cookie on your first FourSquare check in. Those of you who have been to Great Harvest know that they have really awesome cookies, so that’s a FourSquare deal that is not to be missed.

If the amazing food isn’t enough to draw you in, then the friendly service should. The fine folks at Great Harvest are simply the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I give this restaurant an A++ because they are just plain super. Go ahead and check it out and tell them Ching sent you. :-)

My Carnitas Dinner at Raul & Theresa’s

We had the most interesting cab ride to the hotel. While we were waiting for Carmen’s suitcase to come out of baggage claim, she called the cab driver Ruben who was recommended by Miner, one of the hotel staff members that she spoke with last week.

She got his voice mail the first time that she tried. She was cracking up because his voice mail message said something like don’t leave a message, just keep trying to call back. When she finally got a hold of him, she thought he said it would take an hour and twenty minutes for him to pick us up. She was like, we can’t wait that long to be picked up. He clarified and said twenty minutes. I guess his heavy accent caused a bit of a language barrier.

We waited for a while and, after a bit, Carmen was thinking that if he didn’t show up in five more minutes, that we should just take another cab. Finally he called and informed us that he was getting ready to pull up. He asked what door we were by. He also asked Carmen what she was wearing, which was a little awkward because it could have easily been taken out of context. LOL.

We had the most entertaining ride to the hotel. Ruben was very friendly. He asked us what music we wanted to listen to. We told him it didn’t matter and that we would listen to whatever music he listened to. He tuned the radio to 95.1 Latino Vibe and we were dancing around to Mexican and Latin American music all the way to the hotel. All the while he was telling us about Camelback Mountain and the various stadiums that we were driving by. He also told us about his Zumba instructor daughter who lives in Texas. He was Mr. Congeniality, full of helpful information.

He told us about the free shuttle service at the hotel and gave us some restaurant suggestions. That’s actually how we found out about Raul & Theresa’s in Avondale. We figured if a Mexican person says that a Mexican restaurant is good then it’s got to be good, right? They should know.

Raul y Theresa's

Raul & Theresa's on Urbanspoon

Here’s a picture of my carnitas dinner at Raul & Theresa’s. It was pretty good, but not great by any means.

Their chips were pretty mediocre and their salsa is way too spicy. When we asked for mild salsa, we got something that was very watery and way too mild. We finally just made our own by mixing the both the regular and mild together. I was disappointed that it wasn’t nearly as good as similar restaurants here in Wichita.

I’m not sure how everyone else felt about their dinner. The entrees that were delivered to our table both looked and smelled good. Jennifer, one of the students in class who joined us for dinner that evening, said her wine was not good. Then again, who orders wine at a Mexican restaurant? You’re supposed to order a margarita. LOL. We should have warned her ahead of time.

Other than that, the service was pretty good. I think the locals really love this place. Thus, the great reviews that we got from the Ruben and the hotel staff. Speaking of Ruben, he was a great cab driver and lived up to the advertisement on his business card of “friendliest cab in town, low rates, clean ride, and clean driver.” When Carmen left her cellphone in the cab after she got dropped off at the airport, he even came back to the hotel and returned it to me. How many cab drivers would do that? If you are ever in the area, be sure to call Dove Transportation at (602) 413-5399 and ask for Ruben. That might be Ruben’s direct number, actually. If you get voice mail, don’t leave a message. Just call again.

Next Page →