Whether you know me in real life or just online, you’ve probably heard me talk about My Burger. Why? Because they’re the best thing since sliced buns, that’s why. For the real answer, read my previous post detailing how our love affair began.
Perhaps because I am addicted to social media and tend to see things right away, I responded in time to join a focus group to give feedback to My Burger. Along with other burger fanatics, we went through food, atmosphere, location, hours, employees, brand, and everything else that goes along with running a successful business. And starting “soonish,” you can see all that feedback put into action at their new location in Uptown! I was invited to the pre-opening party last week, and we replaced BFF Night with a trip to the new My Burger. We were all impressed and stuffed. I can’t wait until you can try it out for yourself!
The first thing you’ll notice is their proximity to the place I left for My Burger. I can’t wait for the opportunity to get a burger to go and walk down to the lakes this Summer. Uptown is such a perfect location for them. When you walk in the door, you’ll see they’ve kept a bit of the industrial feel with exposed concrete walls, but with accents that feel both very polished and inviting.
Their new menu is quite close to the original, with a few upgrades. Of note is the addition of spices and sauces. It’s still incredibly simple, but also quite perfect. There aren’t so many options as to overload you, but enough to make your burger uniquely yours. To make sure you’re getting your burger exactly as you want it, there are now customer-facing displays showing the order being entered so you’re sure to get what you ask for. Remember that I don’t eat beef? How is it that I’m so in love with My Burger? They also have chicken, fish, and veggie options. My absolute favorite (as a brand new combination) is a chicken burger, add blue cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and Cajun spices, no lettuce. This all on a brown buttered bun served with their amazing fries or onion rings. I’m salivating right now writing this. And I really, really want a strawberry malt right about now.
I can’t wait until you can all give them a shot to see what all my fuss is about. You no longer have to drive downtown during the day, pay for parking, and navigate the skyways if you’re don’t work downtown. Now you can mosey on over to Uptown during the day or in the evening and enjoy life at your own pace, perhaps even with a local beer.
I don’t eat beef – just don’t like the stuff. I don’t have some moral, cultural, or dietary reason, I simply don’t like that combination of texture and flavor. So you might wonder why I’m posting about burgers. Well, the truth is, regardless of what kind of patty you put on it, there’s no finer cuisine than the burger. You can dress it up as fancy as you like and charge $150 for it, or you can get it for under a buck, and all that space in between is a sweet spot of creativity and good eats. There’s just something about having piping hot food assembled just seconds ago with exactly what you wanted on it in your hands. It feels intimate, comforting, and familiar, even if it’s a combination you’ve never tried before. So, even though I don’t enjoy eating beef, the burger experience is something that I can’t turn down.
About a year ago, my BFFs and I discovered what at the time was a burger paradise. With lots of creative burger options along with great fry varieties and dipping sauces, you can go there often and never repeat your order if you’re adventurous. We go out to eat several times a week and it was great to have Burger Jones added to our rotation, so we went there every week or two for several months. We really enjoyed the fun tongue-in-cheek atmosphere and couldn’t believe how long we hadn’t known about them. And as we tend to do, we shared the place with our larger circle of friends and brought visiting out-of-towners because of the over-the-top experience.
One night, we went and sat down just like any other night. I was there with my partner, Matthew, and 2 of my BFFs, Coral and Crystina. I got excited when I saw the shake special was a Butterfinger malt! I couldn’t wait to order and eat so I could get on to the dessert. Our server came around and asked if we’d like to order drinks, and we asked about the specials. That’s about the last good memory I have from there. His answer was “just a bunch of sissy drinks.” Now, I’ll give him that he might not know right away that Matthew and I are gay, or that the word “sissy” isn’t taken very well by gay men thanks to it being overused by biggots to describe us. But it seems quite clear that unless he was extremely dense he should have noticed there were two girls sitting at the table. Perhaps they would like to order a sissy drink? We prodded to find out what those drinks actually were, because we were in fact looking to drink a little. But his next answer was “It’s martinis and cosmos and stuff.” Well now, regardless of the “sissy” comment, he’s failed to answer the one question that can make our bill higher to get him a better tip – twice. We ask a third time, and he describes what drinks are actually on special. One is a chocolate banana martini. I was really interested in that drink, but none of us ordered a drink because we were too annoyed with his attitude.
We order our food and eat it while discussing how unbelievable our server’s behavior was, as it got worse. We never got any refills for our water, and he brought the bill when he picked up our plates – that being the only time we saw him after ordering – and never came back. So, we left without buying any drinks or dessert, and with a look of surprise on our faces. It wasn’t even busy, but we had been completely ignored the entire time we were there.
“Don’t worry guys,” I said, “I’ll tweet them. We’ve tweeted back and forth before, so I’m sure they’ll handle it.” So Coral and I tweeted as we left the restaurant:
Guess my server @BurgerJones didn’t want me to have dessert. Or leave a tip. Never had such a ‘meh’ experience here before.
— Jason (ツ) (@jayysenn) October 16, 2010
Is it just me? bothers me when waiter brings the bill & sets it at table before ur done eating & doesnt even ask about dessert. @burgerjones
— Coral Biegler (@CorieRose) October 16, 2010
— Jason (ツ) (@jayysenn) October 16, 2010
I expected I’d hear from them by morning, or at least in a day or two, as we’d conversed within hours of each other many times before. But instead, something interesting happened: I got followed by My Burger, a place I hadn’t heard of before. Since my career is Social Media for a large corporation, I love seeing other companies who really get it. Now, whether they followed me to see how the Burger Jones scenario played out, because I mentioned burgers and am in the Twin Cities, or because they needed some competitive research, I never asked, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is they made themselves visible to me the very next day without it feeling stalker-ish, and it took Burger Jones 3 weeks to get back to me. Ergo:
— Jason (ツ) (@jayysenn) October 23, 2010
Which prompted an invitation:
@jayysenn we always got your back! Plus we know our burgers are the best in town. Let us know what you think. Customers are straight legit.
— My Burger (@myburgerusa) October 25, 2010
What did I do? I turned around at my desk, rolled my chair over to Coral who sits next to me, and pulled her earbuds out of her ears. “LOOK AT TWITTER. RIGHT NOW,” I told her. We both were amazed at how My Burger got to me before Burger Jones even had a real chance. We did some research and found out we could only get My Burger by going downtown, Monday – Friday before 2:00, pay for parking, and find our way through the Skyway system, with which neither of us was familiar. But with the way we were invited, we couldn’t refuse.
The next week, Coral and I went all the way to downtown Minneapolis just to try out their burgers. From that moment we’ve been addicted. Burger Jones eventually got back to me, but it was a little too late. We had already dropped them from the list of places we frequent, and they never made it back to the list. I know it was an issue with a server, not the business as a whole, and they did try to make it right. I’d go there if a friend of mine was going and invited me, but I haven’t stopped in since October.
Since we tried My Burger, we’ve taken people there from as far away as North Carolina and Texas. We’ve left home at 7:30 to try breakfast. We’ve delivered their food to Richfield and Burnsville for BFFs that couldn’t get out for lunch. And we talk to them nearly every day on Twitter. It’s an opportunistic love affair that never should have been considering the location and hours, but it works. We still drive downtown and pay $12 to park just to have great burgers, on their time instead of ours. So if you’ve been searching for that perfect burger exactly the way you like it, My Burger has your burger. Coral and I will gladly take a long lunch to take you there, as long as you promise never to go without us.
That’s right folks – I gave Delta another chance after they automagically activated my SkyMiles account the day after I blogged about my experience. And I must say that going into the experience on purpose without letting previous experiences play into my perception of this trip, I was quite impressed. If you didn’t read about my previous experiences, you can check them out here.
I realized at the VERY last minute I could squeeze in a trip to see my family at Christmas. I haven’t gotten to see my family anywhere closer than 2 weeks from Christmas in 5 years. I’m surprised after my experiences I trusted Delta to actually make it happen, but I did.
This time, not one employee was rude. Not one employee looked like they were unhappy to be employed. Now – there were some parts of my experience that would have made many people upset, especially at the holidays. But when things happen beyond the control of the airline and its employees, that is absolutely not a problem for me. I’m the first to understand the circumstances that can surround a situation that ultimately disappoints a customer. As long as an employee or the company weren’t negligent in trying to do the best they can, it is absolutely impossible to get me upset with a company. Previously, the problem was the employees, even though the rest of the experience went off without a hitch. This time, although there were problems getting where I needed to be on time, I didn’t mind. Why? Because I was surrounded by happy accommodating people.
I flew out after a big snowstorm that turned to freezing rain during the night and morning before my flight. I was on the plane for over an hour before we were de-iced and took off. We had flight attendants that went up and down the aisles during the delay making small talk and pointing out what was going on outside during the de-icing process to help us understand what was going on. Unfortunately for many people set to travel that day, a lot didn’t make it to the airport due to the weather, but fortunately for those of us who did make it, the flight was thusly half empty.
I got to Charlotte not too long after I should have in the first place. I had a really wonderful time. Of course, my family thought I was crazy for not wearing a jacket most of the time. I came from the land of -20s to the land of 30s – I almost wanted to sunbathe!
In a few days, it was time to head back to the airport for the trek home. I was to be at the “in-law’s” later that day, but since It was beautiful warm weather I wasn’t worried at all. However, the weather in Minneapolis caused a very significant delay, as the plane set to take us there couldn’t fly down to pick us up in time. I assume this is the reason for the delays as the gate agents never said any reason whatsoever, but only provided the updated departure times. However, there was de-icer on the plane windows, so it seems logical the Minneapolis weather was to blame. I was glad I booked through Orbitz, since I got text alerts of the delays and gate change about 5-10 minutes before the announcements from the gate agent. After 3 delays and a gate change, we were finally off the ground a few hours late and on the way home. As with the previous flight, the flight crew couldn’t have been more warm and accommodating. I got home quite late, but got to the in-law’s in pretty good time. I was satisfied even though I was delayed, thanks to the great service.
Within a couple days, I got a survey asking me to provide feedback on my flight since it was delayed. A couple more days and I got a letter from the Director of Customer Care letting me know they credited my SkyMiles account an amount to hopefully make up for the delay on Christmas Eve. What does this say to me? They know they have work to do, and they’re listening. I filled out the survey giving my most honest, unemotional feedback. I know my individual rankings on service may not make a huge impact, but assuming I help increase the sample size, I know that butterflies can change the wind. I never expected the extra SkyMiles, but boy did they make my perception even better. I know it was a form letter, but providing the make good offer based on my delay on likely the most frustrating travel day of the year proves to me they are willing to own up to poor experiences, possibly even those that aren’t their own fault.
I should add that probably the biggest reason for the difference in this experience is that both flights were operated by Comair from Ohio as “Delta Connection” flights. Delta should really take a close look at the small Midwestern carrier as possibly its only hope to ever regain the customers who now hate them post NWA merger. I’m absolutely as likely to choose a flight I know will be operated by Comair as I would have been NWA. I’m still not so sure Delta will ever be able to care enough about their customers to come close to NWA, but at least they’re trying. If you didn’t see, they’re sending all their employees through remedial training on customer service (http://online.wsj.com/article/the_middle_seat.html). If all of their flight attendants could make people feel as comfortable, happy, and relaxed as we all were on my two flights, they’ll be in a really good spot. That burden may rest on the shoulders of the smaller regional carriers with possibly more to lose than the larger Delta. I’m willing to work with a company that’s trying, and I now know that they are. Here’s hoping for a better future for the experience of their customers.
Now, if only their ad campaigns would stop touting what I would consider the price of admission for their company, and start telling us why they’re actually worth giving a chance…
I don’t get to travel very often, but I sure do love new adventures and new places. I was very excited to have the opportunity to represent Best Buy at the Bear to Make a Difference Gala for the Matthew Shepard Foundation this year. If that doesn’t ring a bell, take a moment to check out the site here. Matthew and I even ended up with our picture in Denver Magazine. You can check out the photographs here and specifically ours here. Extra points if you can pick out all the Best Buy folks in the photographs. I guess I should also point out the fact that I was in Best Buy blue and yellow, and Matthew was in Geek Squad orange and black.
Like I said, I was ecstatic at the chance to go. At a time when activism has become more propaganda than meaningful work, I feel strongly that the Matthew Shepard Foundation still has a strong mindset of real change that affects real people. Also, I had never been to Denver, and I love exploring new downtowns. It was sure to be a hit!
We arrive at the airport early, but only about an hour before we were scheduled to be taking off. It seemed strange to me that no one was at the gate, and there wasn’t even a plane waiting. I’ve seen an empty gate more than one time in the early morning, but it was getting very close to boarding time and there was no plane in site. Then, a man in jeans, a hoodie, and a knit cap walked behind the desk and announced the plane we were supposed to be on had a dead battery, so they were finding a replacement and we would be delayed. No reason to worry – we didn’t have plans until that evening for the event, so a delay wouldn’t matter that much. It did seem odd that the person announcing this had not one Delta logo on his person apart from his ID badge on his lanyard. I guess staff was just short. At least he was kind and informative, even when delivering bad news. We find ourselves sitting next to another employee and his guest going to Denver for the same reason, and decide to share a car rental to make things easy.
We arrive in Denver after an uneventful flight, get the rental car, and I navigate using the GPS on my phone – Gladys as I like to call her. She takes us down the freeway and into downtown Denver. I had no idea the airport was so far away from the city, but it was quite an easy drive without a lot of traffic. We arrive at the Hilton Garden Inn where Matthew and I will be staying, and give directions to our friend and his guest to get to the Brown Palace where their rooms are booked. We walk up to the front desk, and I started to wonder if I somehow ruined the day for the lady behind the desk by my walking up. Her face said she was unhappy, and the tone in her voice said she wished I would go away forever. She tells me she has no reservation for anyone under my name and that I should double-check my information.
So – it’s over to the lobby to boot up my laptop and find out what’s going on. After about 15 minutes, I finally get into my email and find the confirmation. I provide her the confirmation number, and she informs me my booking is actually at the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport, a 40 minute drive back in the wrong direction. I explain that I have an event to attend tonight downtown, and ask if my reservation can be changed to this location.
“We are fully committed for the evening,” she said. “I won’t be able to accommodate you.”
“Is there another one closer than the airport?” I ask hopefully.
“There is one about 3 miles away. Here’s their number if you want to give them a call.” She wrote the number on a blank piece of paper and handed it to me, already looking away before I took it from her hand. The phone rang, and she answered it curtly and said if they were needing a room, they’d have to find another hotel as this one is fully committed, and hung up.
That’s the moment I realized she wasn’t just having a bad day. There was something different at the core of her social behavior that I just wasn’t used to. There was another employee behind the desk now, and he seemed just as annoyed to be awake as she was. If I was in Minnesota, or even back in North Carolina where I grew up, I would have expected nothing less than her to make the call for me. After all, it’s the same hotel company – shouldn’t she jump to my rescue and sweet talk the other location into providing me a room? I would for her if the tables were turned, even if she wasn’t as nice to me as I was to her. I had left the bubble of Minnesota Nice and entered the rest of the world, and I didn’t like it.
I ended up canceling my reservation with Hilton and finding a room at the Brown. It took me 4 tries though, because I had 1 bar of cell signal, and every time I called my phone decided it had better things to do than maintain a cell connection. Nonetheless, it cost less to cancel the reservation and pay for a more expensive room than to taxi back and forth between the airport and downtown for the next two days. Although the Brown didn’t go anywhere out of their way to be nice, they at least didn’t start off with a default annoyed personality, and never failed to be hospitable.
Throughout my trip I saw many examples of people behaving in a way that would turn every head around if it happened in Minnesota, but nobody noticed in Denver. Once I understood the different social climate, it stopped bothering me and became more of a people watching excursion. From restaurant servers to people in the street, things were just different. Even though I’m not native to Minnesota, I have hospitality and a concern for humanity engrained in my psyche having grown up in the South.
I really enjoyed the gala and my Sunday free to roam Denver. We walked around taking a few pictures, and had some good food that wasn’t as boring as the Pale Food Polka in Minnesota. By the way, if you’re ever in Denver, you MUST try The Delectable Egg for breakfast. I recommend anything with chorrizo.
I had only gotten used to dealing with people who did not have nice as a primary expectation, and it was time to return to the airport for the trek home. A quick shuttle ride there, an hour through security, and we would be on the way. What happened at the gate bothered me more than a hotel employee being immune to the emotions of a stranded traveler who had already paid her company money.
One of the gate agents started yelling through the loudspeaker for a particular passenger to come to the desk. “Pocahontas, come up to the desk. I need to talk to you.”
She was at the point where the speaker starts to cut out – a point that should never be reached when you’re dealing with paying customers. As we sat at the gate, this happened no less than 7 times, with more names being added to the list of passengers she was looking for. It was nothing new to me to hear passengers summoned to the desk, but the condescending tone and sheer volume of her voice only got worse each time. In between, she bellowed about the plane being full and anyone with oversized or multiple bags should come up now to gate check their luggage, or they were going to hold up the whole plane and make everyone late.
Now – I’ll admit my job requires me to consider tact with everything I say, as my everyday responsibilities include me representing the company in the social web which puts my words in a crucible ripe for scrutiny, so maybe I am a little biased. But I expect a gate agent to have at least a little bit of respect when dealing with people who are mostly annoyed with having to travel at all, are probably tired, and feel they had to pay way too much just to catch a ride. Shouldn’t you ask people to check large or extra items to help things run smoothly, and note they will not be charged for checking at the gate, rather than talking to them like a child and giving them a guilt trip for ruining everyone’s flying experience? I’m sorry, but she was the one ruining the experience for everyone. If I had been Pocahontas, the name she kept yelling, I would have walked right up and spoken to her in exactly the same volume.
I caught her eye as she scanned my boarding pass, and she didn’t utter one single word. No greeting. No thank you for flying Delta. No enjoy your flight. Just bitter cold silence even after making eye contact. Now THAT’s an experience that makes me want to fly Delta again *sarcasm*.
I’m happy to report my flight home was fast, friendly, and pain free. We had been delayed by over an hour when we took off, but landed only a few minutes behind schedule. The pilot warned us that he wasn’t slowing down very much to land, and there’d be quite a jolt. He was right – but as I’m one for thrill rides I actually enjoyed being thrown around a bit when we landed. The experience with this flight crew was so good in fact I would have flown Delta again – had it not been for them never noticing I was tweeting my feedback to them throughout my experiences, and they either had no idea I tweeted them or chose to ignore me. Either way, it’s obvious they didn’t value my opinion or my satisfaction.
After I got back home, I grieved the wonderful airline that had been Northwest Airlines. Always friendly, always accommodating, and always worth flying. It’s amazing how different the merged company is. One would think Northwest might have rubbed off a little on Delta, but there’s not one hint that the newly massive company contains even a shred of what humanity we Minnesotans would consider the price of admission. Speaking of which – I saw a billboard the other day for Delta that informed me I could choose my payment method for my vacation. Thanks so much, Delta, for earning a “Meets Expectations” in that regard. Now tell me what you do that would make me give enough of a damn to pay you my hard-earned money for a flight I’m certain will mean putting up with people who seem to hate society. If there’s further context I’m missing from the sign, I’ll give you that. But I didn’t catch the context, so it’s not of any real difference. Never mind – you’re not listening anyway. I’ll choose to pay more, and even suffer a long layover with another airline rather than give you my business.