Monday, July 18, 2011

On The Road Again

Hello from sunny and sweltering hot San Antonio, Texas

I'm off again on another business trip. This time to south Texas in the middle of July for BERNINA University. I lead such a glamorous life. Why a company would book a convention in south Texas when the average daily temperature is in triple digits is beyond me, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

I do have to admit that the River Walk here is absolutely beautiful. Anyone that has the opportunity to visit would have to be jealous that their hometown doesn't have one. Wait - I live in the Pittsburgh area and we have three rivers! How hard would it be to dig a few canals, line them with fabulous shops and restaurants and beautiful landscaping? Someone should get right on that.

If you follow my blog, you already know that some of my travel woes are legendary. This trip started out a bit rocky when I attempted to print my boarding passes the evening before we left. A process that should be no big deal. Three hours and six phone calls later and I will admit to heaping some serious verbal a** kicking on the customer "service" operator, I had the required boarding passes. It took that long because the discount ticket agent that I used (Cheap-O Air - which should have been my first clue) "adjusted" our flights way back in April and "forgot" to "push the change thought the system" - for three months. Despite the phone conversation I had with them just three days earlier.

On the first flight I had the opportunity to catch up on some serious business reading. On the second flight I had the joy of sitting next to Quinn, an 8 year old traveling alone on his way home from his Grandma's and a trip to Disneyland. His very thoughtful Grandma packed him an entire backpack of sugary treats to keep him occupied on the trip. - gee thanks Grandma. I can attest to the fact that a zip lock bag of Oreo's, Sweedish Fish, Starburst Fruit Chews and a Slim Jim topped off with a can of Sprite are a volatile combination. - special thanks to the flight attendant that offered me a free glass of wine, but that even I don't drink at 10:30am. But I digress.

One of the business articles that I read was on Customer Service - or the lack of it, which I was experiencing first hand. In this article the business Guru's make a point that in order to provide excellent customer service, you should ask your customers what they want. Good idea.

So while I am sweltering on the River Walk here in south Texas, I have chores for you. Respond with a comment to this message and answer the following questions. I know that many of you are located in other states so you don't shop in my store, but you may order from us online. You can respond to my questions with answers that would apply to your own local quilt shop. Take part, participate, I will make it worthwhile. You have until July 24th to leave a comment, on the 25th I will use a random number generator to select a comment to receive a beautiful 8 piece fat quarter bundle. - that 2 yards of fabric for doing a little homework! Here are your questions:

What ONE thing could we do to improve customer service?

What ONE service could we add to make it more convenient to shop with us?

What ONE class or event could we add that you would like to attend?


Anonymous said...

What ONE thing could we do to improve customer service? Be willing to fax, read over the phone or email class supply lists to students calling to enroll in a class. I live in the South Hills and almost dropped out of a class because the lady who took my info. was insisting that I come in to pick up the supply list. It's too far to go to pick up one little list. (There was only 5 items on the list.)

What ONE service could we add to make it more convenient to shop with us? Not that this will ever happen, but move to downtown Pgh. :-) I'd love it if you were closer. Other than that, I appreciate the wonderful services you do provide.

What ONE class or event could we add that you would like to attend?
School House in the summer. With our winter weather so iffy, it makes it difficult to sign up for winter time classes. Maybe offer more or repeats of classes from the winter in the summer?. Just a thought.

Lori Kalmeyer

Anonymous said...

Can not think of any thing to say.
When I was at your shop / I had a great time and wonderful service.

Did you raffle off the sewing machine yet?

Have a great trip.

Anonymous said...

1. Please update your website. I have seen the same specials, kits and patterns in the same order for a year with one new table runner addition. I do a lot of browsing on the internet.

2. Your shop is extremely out of my way. I usually make it two times per year from the New Castle area.

3. I would like to become an expert on the Easy Striped
Table Runner.

Your shop is a fun place with congenial clerks on the day I was there.

Anonymous said...

Overall, can't think of anything not good about the shop or staff.
But since you wanted answers I thought and thought and this is what I think could be better.
Question #1 Have an experienced instructor "preview" classes or have those providing classes submit an outline of the class.
Questions #2 More resources on Class days/Embroidery Club days when the check out lines are long.
Question #3 More events like the "ride all day" on July 9th(I think that was the date).

Stacy Lindblom said...

I haven't been to your shop so I'll have to answer for my local shop.
1) I've called my local shop a few times to see if they have a certain fabric and 90% of the time, they don't know if they have it or not. They tell me I have to come in to the shop to see if they have it. What the heck? They're not close to my home so that's why I'm calling!
2) My answer was going to be to offer longarm quilting services but I just found out my local shop has just acquired a longarm machine and will soon be offering this service.
3) I'd like to make a t-shirt quilt and a class would be helpful. My husband's mother made a t-shirt quilt for his brother but passed away before she could make one for my husband. I'd love to make one for him.

Karen said...

Anonymous Lori has a great point, the staff SHOULD fax, read, etc. the materials list to anyone that has PAID the class fee! If they don't, let me know - but I will certainly cover that in our next staff meeting! She is also correct - we aren't moving closer to downtown! We tried Summer Schoolhouse, but the interest just wasn't there. That is why we tried the more flexible Demo Days this year.

We haven't given away the BERNINA yet, that happens on JULY 25th. Spend $50 in the store and get your name in the drawing for FREE!

Anonymous #2 I feel your pain with the website! We are actually in the middle of a major redesign of the whole site. It has taken weeks - ok, MONTHS, longer than I wanted it to, but those twin grandbabies put me a little behind. What would you rather do, hold your first grandchildren or resize photos and decipher computer code? But I PROMISE that you are going to love it when it is finished!.... soon, very soon..... Anonymous #3... how am I going to tell who wins if you don't include at least your first name?
Keep those comments coming!

banjo795 said...

I like to just browse without being pressured to buy something. So the "Hi; let us know when/if you need help" that I get when I stop in is really appreciated!

I shop in person and don't use your website. However, that said, I visit the website during Shop Hops and Quilting is Murder events, as well as using as a quick way to get to your blog. To tell you the truth, it is a little boring. I think I've seen the same kits for the last two years. And I understand that your main focus is your brick and morter store, but from your website, it appears that you only sell kits and your fabric and patterns. Even if you don't want to sell everything in the store online (which can be an inventory nightmare!), you may want to "feature" certain items regularly to keep the website fresh.

I'd like it if you could occasionally have Sunday afternoon events/classes.

Barb J

Melanie Popovich said...

As I travel since I am retired, one way to improve customer service is to greet them when they come in. I know you're always busy, but when you see a face you don't recognize as a shop employee, its nice to get a hello. Sometimes I go to shops walk around and no one says anything to you.

One service to make it more convenient would be to finish Rt. 28 construction so those of us in the South Hills can get there faster. Just kidding..... You guys always provide great service. Especially when my husband orders a gift card!

One class or event would be more things at the Hampton Center. Those big group activities were fun. It's nice to get a few friends together and meet new people.

Mel Popovich

Anonymous said...

Please update your website more often. Would love to see more products for online ordering.

Loved your 12 Days of Christmas promotion- How about the Dog Days of Summer? And more classes during non-winter months.

Customer Service- greet everyone with a smile and ask - is this the first time in our store? If they are a regular and get muffled, then complement them about their new look or your bad eyesight. If they are new to the store, they are more likely to return. Why do I say this? Because my first time to the store was almost my last time. But I try to give everyone a second chance-must have been a down day that day.

Kathryn said...

I live in Washington State, so my comments are in reference to my local shop.

1. One thing to improve customer service - all employees at the shop should know how to quilt, that way all questions get answered.

2. One service could they add: my store offers so many good things. I would love it if they were a Bernina dealer, but they already carry Viking.

3. One class or event - Swirly Girl by Michael Miller. It's a yearly program. So since that won't happen I would love for them to carry Michael Miller fabrics.

Great questions. I hope you get thoughtful answers.

Jeanine said...

I think your customer service is great. There is usually someone available to help and I say "usually" because I'm limited to shopping on Sat. and it is usually busy then.

As to one class or event - I can't think of one right now.

I just love those 1st Fri/ 1st Sat. I wouldn't mind the addition of another project - say on every 3rd Sat.

Patti said...

What ONE thing could we do to improve customer service? Can't think of a thing!

What ONE service could we add to make it more convenient to shop with us? I would love to see ALL of Patrick Lose's fabrics in your store - he has some wonderful, bright colors and designs, such as the Fizz line!

What ONE class or event could we add that you would like to attend?
I don't make it over to classes very often - it's about a 40 minute drive one-way for me to get to the shop.


Anonymous said...

What ONE thing could we do to improve customer service? Debby stands out as always providing great customer service. When I moved to Pittsburgh three years ago, I came in the shop and introduced myself and although I don't stop by as often as I used to because of work, she still remembers me by name and is always friendly and helpful! In general, your staff is friendly without being intrusive while shopping.

What ONE service could we add to make it more convenient to shop with us?
I would love it if you had extended hours every now and then or even opened on Sunday for a bit - as I mentioned earlier, with work, it's tough to get there at times!

What ONE class or event could we add that you would like to attend?
I would really like to see more quilting classes offered - patterns, mystery quilts, etc. When I took a look at a recent class schedule, it seemed like there were a lot of purses and other projects rather than quilt tops.
I would also like to suggest photographs of your class projects online.

-Lisa G.

LMS said...

One thing you could do to improve customer service- Be willing to email info- I live in the south hills and work full time. It is not convenient to drive out there for things that you can handle electronically.

Improve service - Be open on sundays
Class to add- how about a class on great gifts you can make for Christmas? I have 9 sister-in-laws and am always looking for something useful to make as gifts

Gail @ Travel Square said...

1: Improve Customer Service ?
Greeting customers when they arrive is key in a quilt shop and you all do a great job at that.
The staff helped me find the perfect border fabric the last time I was in.

2: I can't think of anything to do to make it easier to shop! Open later 1 more evening?

3: Class or event? :
Hand piecing or hand quilting classes ?!

Keep up the "Blog" love it

Jude G said...

I signed up for a class over the phone- The women I spoke to was willing to give me the supply list & yardage, but could not locate it. I had to drive in to get the list.

Your service is exceptional!!! The women are knowledgable, always willing to help no matter how long it takes (I am a new quilter). Brandon always is ready to explain a "strange sound" in my Bernina" - EVERYONE goes above and beyond!

I would like to see more beginning quilting classes ( including use of rotary cutters templates etc.)& in the summer as well.

Tracey Z said...

1--I can't think of a thing to improve customer service. The staff is extremely friendly and VERY helpful (I am lousy at putting colors together!) And Brandon goes above and beyond to help me adjust to my new Bernina.

2--Since I am usually on my way to or from the Hampton Community Center to exercise when I stop by the Quilt Company, I guess it would be helpful for my hips to remove the mini Tootsie rolls from the counter. ;) Just kidding!

3--This is a tough one. I should say NOTHING because I have way too many projects, patterns, and fabric sitting here. However, I agree with some earlier responses: quilt tops & quilt patterns, 1st Friday, 1st Saturday and large group events at the Hampton Community Center.

Anonymous said...

One thing -- just love our store but wish it was located closer to Columbiana.
One service -- e-mail us the supply list when we have paid for class because it's too far to come in to get it.
One class or event -- Because of distance and unpredictable winter weather I would love at least a half day with Christmas gifts like you do in late fall. It's always too risky to plan on making it in winter driving.
Your son is a good addition to your team. He is polite, courteous plus personable and very helpful with technical questions. Good training there mom and dad!
Judy - Columbiana

anniedehgan said...

Service-usually good but sometimes a little spare.
More convenient-maybe a sale sunday four times a year
one class- a sat/sun trunk show and class by an art quilter or
someone like Kaffe Fassett or Paula Nadelstern(?)sp.

Anonymous said...

I've appreciated reading others comments because I couldn't think of anything at first. I think your customer service is fantastic. I'm handicapped and don't get to your store often. Several clerks know my name when I come in. I came in one winter on my scooter. The ramp was covered with an inch of snow. By the time I left the ramp was clean. Everyone is very helpful and knowledgeable with my questions. Should someone not know the answer, they ask another worker who can usually answer it.
They have gone out of their way to help me change colors, find different fabrics, etc. Of course, I try to be considerate of them as well; ask questions when they are free.

I love your classes and would participate more often if not for my health issues. I did participate the Anita Goodesign activity in the Park. I will gladly go to the activity Center again. Your prices are affordable.

As someone else said, I use the internet alot and would love it if you had some new fabrics on there. I understand that you can't do everything, but would it be possible to list some of the new fabric lines? I can find that on the internet and get an idea of what I want.

Again I love your store, and I love your service.

Barbara Basel

DPUTiger said...

Customer Service: I love your shop and wasn't thinking there was much room for TQC to improve, then I saw the first comment, and I'd agree with that. I have trouble keeping up with store happenings because I live in the South Hills. I wish I could clone TQC and plunk it down closer to my house!

One Service: Evenings. Or Sunday. I work retail on Thursday nights and Saturdays. That makes it extra tough for me to visit TQC. I know that's a hard decision to make and it's a risk to be open more hours, but I know Sunday is my only free day. Maybe there are others like me?

One class: That's tough too. I've been sewing less and less lately, but again, I think Lori has a great idea. I attended one School House a few years ago and slid down Middle Road on my way to the shop when I hit a patch of black ice.

On the whole, I love TQC. You run a great business with a good heart behind it, and I recommend it to others at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

1. UPDATE the website ! ! ! !(frequently....)
2. For my part, your location is optimal, your hours accessible, and your staff wonderful.
3. I'd love to see an all day, preferably Saturday, bring your current project and sew in the company of others "class". We wouldn't need a teacher per se, just a monitor to keep folks under control......jloquilts

Pat said...

I really don't have a local quilt shop, per se, so I would like to comment on on-line service.
Please consider us more.
Make available to us the same offers as walk ins. For instance, there was a hand out I was especially interested in. Is it possible this could have been put on the website so we could print it ourselves. Business potential from on-line customers is trememdous and I think you're lacking in this area.
Also, on-line classes is another option.
Have not been in your shop yet, but I and two quilting friends are looking forward to a visit this summer. It's about a two hour drive and hope to spend most of the day in the area.
Thanks for everything that you do offer. I just wish I lived closer.

Ruth Anthony said...

#1 Greet eveyone who comes in. I usually say hi 1st or at the same time the staff person (usually the ones I know outside the store) says hi.
#2 Helpful to have organizational tips on web from staff or customers. I have so much fabric/patterns/kits/UFOs, ideas and comments would always be helpful.
#3 I loved the 12 days of Christmas. I didn't need everything but it was so much fun to order and then get my beautiful bag when I came to the store.
Ruth A.

Eleny said...

What one thing could you do to improve customer service? Make sure all of your web site works. Right now the contact us page is down.
What one service could you add? How about a referral board so your customers could advertise their quilt related services?
What one class or event would you add? Maybe a class by Ellen Ann Eddy - definitely something for art quilters.

Elaine Petrakis said...

I love your store and your friendly employees.
I live 40 minutes away and I would love for the embroidery club to be longer than 10 min.
I would like more classes for Block of the Month club and more artistic classes i.e.using different media, paints and embellishments.
Thanks for listening.

JoniStrother said...

What ONE thing could we do to improve customer service? I love the personal attention in a small quilt shop, but I'd love it if you could order things you don't carry very quickly.


Access to more books and fabric choices. It seems as if you only have relationships with a few publishers and manufacturers.


Advanced hand applique OR hand dyeing.

Joni Strother
San Jose, CA

Anonymous said...

I just love your shop. It's so bright and cheerful.

I am not a regular to the shop and can only shop on Saturdays, due to my work hours. I have to agree that it can be a little busy at the shop during that time. Since I live a distance away, I'm not a regular to your shop. Everyone, who has helped me, were very cheerful and easy to do business with, but it is hard to recognize who is an employee so a hello would be nice.

I do have to give a special thanks to Brandon for all his help. He is always so patient when I have a Bernina question, and did a fabulous repair on my machine!

The only thing I could add that would make me visit your shop more was if you moved to the South Hills......wishful thinking!

Patty Brock said...

At busy times, more help would be beneficial. If you have questions about fabric/color/books, the girls are busy cutting fabric or waiting on customers wanting to check out. This would be difficult as I imagine there are times when the store is not so busy.

Would be great if the store was open one more evening per week to accommodate those who can't get there during the week.

Your schedule of classes is great so I can't think of anything that would help in this area.

All in all, I love your store - when I pull in to the parking lot I feel like a kid heading to the candy store. I often come in just to look around and get ideas.

Anonymous said...

What ONE thing could we do to improve customer service? You all are great! You've been very responsive to my special requests for patterns, etc. via e-mails. I'd like to see YOU (Karen) in the store more - you have always had good advice and it's nice when you're there to answer questions. I'm so sorry to see that Debby has retired (happy for her, though). Can you clone her? Maybe if you promoted each employee and their special skills/expertise (sort of like Martha Pullen's "Stitchin' With The Staff" part of her newsletter.) I know that Brandon & Honey are the “Go To” people for Bernina, but what if I have a question about hand appliqué or hand quilting? Everybody can’t be an expert on everything.
What ONE service could we add to make it more convenient to shop with us? That's hard to say - you already do a lot. But, I would love to see more reproduction fabrics & patterns in the store.
What ONE class or event could we add that you would like to attend? Please repeat your quilt appraiser event again. The one you did last fall was wonderful. Since then I have run into a number of people who either didn't know about it last year or didn't realize what it was and so didn't participate. I also have more quilts I'd like appraised. ALSO - is it possible to bring in other national teachers for classes (like Jinny Beyer/Jo Morton/Ellie Sienkiewicz/etc). Maybe you could share the cost with local quilt guilds.
Thanks for asking! Barb O - Gibsonia, PA

Betsy said...

I agree that limited Sunday hours would be great. I would also like to see a beginning quilting class offered.

rosebud said...

I just found the blog, so I missed the drawing, but I go to your store frequently and am very disappointed that you often do not carry an entire line of fabrics for projects.i.e. there is a Halloween pattern from Red Rooster have one of the several fabrics on the pattern...I used to buy that one fabric and try to get the I just pass the entire project up.

2. It seems that there is less emphasis on quilting in the store and more on embroidery. I miss seeing karen working on quilting projects and new patterns in the store. This year you did not have the display of quilts from customers...too bad...loved that...

3. Class times are not often convenient for people who work.