Last year at this time, my annual quest to get a "thank you" from the Cubs in return for me handing them thousands of dollars went unfulfilled. However, what was surprising is that my check was not taken by the surly fat guy I had previously grown accustomed to getting attitude from. It was taken by a pleasant woman, who did not say "thank you" but who was at least cordial.
So the Cubs are trending upward ever so slightly in the customer service area of their business, and my hope is that the Ricketts will continue this upward trend. There is still a long way to go in making us feel that the money we turn over in exchange for no championships is appreciated even a little.
For instance, let's say that the best customer service in the world would be represented by the new tallest building in the world located in Dubai, that reaches over 2,600 feet tall. Let's also say that the absolute worst customer service possible would be represented by Aaron Miles.
Here is a representation of where the Cubs are based on last year's experience:
Obviously, this is not drawn to scale. In reality, Aaron Miles would be much smaller than the amoeba.
Nevertheless, there is still a huge gap to be filled and we'll see where the Cubs customer service (and plain human decency) stands in the first year of Ricketts ownership today at lunch.
To be continued...
UPDATE: I am now $3,300 dollars poorer and the Cubs are $3,300 richer. In reality, I don't want to know how much money got passed to the Cubs in some form today because it will only make me angry.
You may be wondering if i got the elusive "thank you." Those who are familiar at all with the Cubs ticket department will not be surprised in the slightest that the answer to that question is: No, I did not.
Nor did the two people just ahead of me in line. I paid close attention, and neither got it.
In fairness to the guy working, he was polite. He didn't make it seem like it was a chore to take all of our money. He even made a couple of attempts to answer questions from the people in front of me.
One woman asked where the location was to mail in the checks because it is different now that the Tribune doesn't own them anymore. Answer: "I don't know. All I know is it's some bank."
Now, he may not know this information because someone above his pay grade deemed that he doesn't need to know, so he may not be actually be able to provide the simple information this woman was looking for. But regardless of why he doesn't know, it is absolutely something that he should know. This is an address where Cubs fans are blindly sending checks for thousands of dollars and the representative for the team that interacts with the public can't tell you anything about where those checks are going besides that it's some bank? Way to build the trust, guys.
One guy asked if there was any news about his upgrade request he had sent in last month, and should he call his assigned season ticket representative directly. Again, I give credit to the guy behind the counter because he did not openly fall out of his chair in a laughing fit. However, his answer was "I wouldn't call for at least a week. They're not even to your year yet."
I understand what he was trying to convey - there are a lot of requests to upgrade and they give priority to those who have held their tickets the longest. I also give another bonus point for actually answering the question despite the fact that the answer was assuredly not what the customer was wanting to hear and it would have been easier to just say, "Yeah, you should call your season ticket rep." But couldn't he have explained it so that the customer might still believe that the Cubs were diligently working behind the scenes to accomodate him? My earlier explanation probably would have worked. Instead it came off sounding like the Cubs will get to his request whenever they are good and ready.
The Cubs are really good at the Machiavellian/used car salesman double-talk in their written communications (check out Andy Dolan's analysis of this year's letter to the season ticket holders), but then there is nothing in the live interactions that even hints at them being interested in helping you enjoy the experience or making sure you are pleased enough to return as a customer.
When it was my turn, I said hello and he also said hello. It was admittedly a good start. I handed him my invoice and my check. He made a couple of markings, stamped the check and said, "You're all set." That was it.
He was courteous. He smiled. He seemed to be doing his job with efficiency. He did not say "thank you."
Last year, the pleasant woman also said, "You're all set." So I began thinking that this was maybe Cubs code for "thank you." Maybe I've been judging the Cubs wrongly all these years when they have been expressing gratitude for my business all along and I just somehow never got my decoder ring. Maybe they could send me one of those along with the pocket schedule this year.