Posts Tagged Customer Service

A Story of Great Customer Service by Eli’s Associates this holiday season

We live in a time where the access to the internet, information and express shipments have caused many people to order later and later each year for the holidays. This shift causes my challenges for us with issues beyond our control like the weather and also just the number of orders that come in within a short period of time.

For my dad in the restaurant business, it wasn’t a great night unless every customer was happy. We work to maintain those standards in our direct and wholesale business, but there are always issues that arise. For that reason, we certainly appreciate this letter from Mr. Abbott recognizing Andrea Miles, our Mail Order Manager, and Marie, a Customer Service Representative for the


Mr. Schulman, I’m a repeat customer and recently placed a large order to take care of an office in San
Francisco. Though the order was placed well in advance of when it was needed, two problems caused a ‘perfect storm’ that may have cost me, well, a lot more than cheesecake.

I must have input the wrong credit card info online – and none of the Elicheesecake emails of confirmation
were coming to me at this email address.

On Monday I called to be sure everything was ok and that’s when I found it wasn’t. I’m not sure why I didn’t
get a phone call from someone to tell me that things weren’t lining up, but I can appreciate that there’s a huge rush at this time of year.

Marie is the person on the phone, perhaps incredulous that I may lose my livelihood over an order not
appearing when the company’s owners were to be there, but nevertheless, she cared. It was too late for the order to go out that day to make it on Wednesday., so I was still willing to have it show up on Thursday, resigned that
I couldn’t change anything.

In a follow up phone call, Marie told me that Andrea was driving the order herself to UPS for shipment in time
for Weds delivery.

I have never seen such care and extraordinary spirit. I can’t tell enough people about this and how truly
unusual this kind of customer service and interaction is these days. Growing up in the ’50-60′s, this is something I thought long, long gone. Thank you.

Thank you and thank Marie and Andrea from the bottom of my heart. May God bless you all with 10 fold the good spirit you spread. It’s not about the job or the cheesecake, I’m deeply touched by people caring.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukka, Kwanza, whatever is meaningful to you and yours, may it always be

S. Abbott

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Eli’s Cheesecake Recognized by the Wall Street Journal and by a very happy daughter celebrating her dad’s birthday

As we get closer to the holidays, our phones and web site get very busy with orders for gifts and for holiday tables. We work very hard to
make sure that our customers get the same quality of service and quality of product that people have grown to expect of Eli’s. It is sort of like taking the experience that my dad delivered at Eli’s the Place for Steak where he developed his signature dessert and delivering it very carefully in dry ice and stryrofoam for the perfect celebration.

Today we were judged by the Wall Street Journal in its popular “Catalog Critic” column. In surveying a number of companies that send out
cheesecakes, the Catalog Critic judged Junior’s (a family owned company that we respect greatly) and Eli’s Cheesecake as the highest. We were judged highly for our “rich filling, dense testure and shortbread crust” and for a web site that was easy to navigate as well as excellent and personal service on the phone.


It was a great to get such important recognition from such a highly regarded publication, but my day was really made late in the afternoon
when J. Kerber of Andover, Massachusetts sent me an e-mailĀ about the cheesecake that she ordered for delivery on Saturday, November 5th–her dad’s birthday. I know that day well as it is the date of our daughter, Haley’s, birthday so I know about family celebration on that day and can appreciate how important it was to get the cheesecake on that date.

Here is Ms. Kerber’s letter to me:

Dear Mr. Schulman,

I recently ordered one of your classic plain cheesecakes for my father’s birthday on Nov. 5th. I am writing to say what a wonderful experience the whole process was. When I called to ask customer service about sending the cheesecake for a Saturday delivery, Andi Miles of your customer service department was explicit about my needing to be present to accept the package so I could be sure to get my product into refrigeration. As I work in customer service with refrigerated items as well, I know how important this is! I assured her I would be waiting eagerly!

My father is a tough man to buy for, and never really needs anything……….so I thought I would buy him something that we could all help him enjoy. Well…..when he had his first slice he was hooked, and didn’t want to share!!!!!!!!!!!!He made me wrap up his secret stash and put it into the freezer so he could have it on hand when he wanted it. I snuck a piece anyway, and immediately could understand his greediness. It was the best cheesecake I have ever had. Thank you for a great product and experience. I will be ordering again. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

J. Keber

At Eli’s, we make customers happy one at a time and it feels great to make a birthday special for Mr. Kerber. We look forward to
bringing lots more joy to our customers this holiday season. Again, never hesitate to write me (the link is on the home page of our web site) if you want to share a story with me or to ask a question.

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Eli’s is committed to giving exceptional customer service–year round

With all our recent postings about the Taste of Chicago, you might assume that we have shut the bakery down and moved all our people down to Grant Park. That was true a number of years ago, but now, we are fortunate to have a great seasonal staff at Taste under the leadership of Mike Neuhaus, and a very busy bakery serving our customers around the country and all over the world.

The importance of great customer service 24/7 365 days a year was brought home when I opened the following letter from Maggie Chan of New York. In the beginning, it sounded like a great opportunity to enjoy Eli’s gone awry—learning about us on the Food Network, ordering a birthday cake for her brother and then the problem—the delivery was not made on time. Now the customer is coming back to us with a problem, and what do we do?

In this case, the results were all very positive as our Customer Service Leader, Tania Alvarado, replied within minutes and made sure that Eli’s didn’t rest until the gift was reshipped and happily enjoyed.

The words from Ms.Chan speak volumes about how we want Eli’s to be viewed by our customers. This is an exceptionally high standard, but it can’t be beat, as it really shows that the customer comes first:

I’m just so amazingly impressed by customer service over there! I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a user-friendlier site, a more friendly call center staff and a more attentive customer service representative in my life. It really is hard to find a company where the employees care about the customers. I will definitely pass on your cheesecake name to all my friends. I just wanted to write to express my sheer bliss in my dealings with this company.

Thank you Ms. Chan for showing the power of great customer service and thank you Tania for representing Eli’s so well.

Tania Alvarado (far left) on Saturday working with Laurel Boger, Diana Moles and Hilda Carillo, at the Taste of Chicago. Thank you Tania!

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Great Column by Norm Brodsky in Inc. Magazine on the high standard of customer service you should expect—at Eli’s, we believe this!

Street Smarts: You’re Fired!

Tired of receiving poor service? Don’t just sit there
and whine about it. Do something!

From: Inc, May
| Page 51 By: Norm

Recently I fired my insurance broker and my accounting firm. I
came very close to firing my bank as well. The truth is, I’ve been fed up with
the service we’ve been getting from all three of them for more than a year. What
finally pushed me to take action was the experience of watching David Neeleman,
the CEO of JetBlue Airways, spend a five-and-a-half-hour flight walking up and
down the aisle of the plane, talking with and listening to his customers. (See
“Learning From JetBlue,” March 2004.) He made me realize that, in many cases, we
have only ourselves to blame for the poor customer service we

Why? Because we put up with it. We don’t demand from our
suppliers the kind of service we strive to provide to our own customers. We let
inertia keep us from doing what we know is best for our business.

Let’s start with the insurance agency. For years, we had a
terrific agent who constantly reviewed our policies, making sure we had the
proper coverage, looking for ways we could save money. He eventually sold his
business but continued to handle our account until he received his final payment
and retired. Shortly thereafter, we began soliciting bids from other agencies
interested in our account, which was worth between $350,000 and $400,000 in
annual premiums. In the end, we gave it to the guy who made the best sales
pitch. His name was Bob, and he was the agency’s principal. He said one of his
employees would handle the account, but we should call him directly if any
problems arose. In addition, he’d stop by a couple of times a year to check up
on the relationship and make sure our needs were being met.

That was the last we saw of Bob for two years. As time went
along, moreover, I began to get the feeling that the person he’d assigned to us
wasn’t doing his job. He rarely came to see us, and he appeared to have no
interest in how our business–and our insurance needs–might be changing. Then,
last year, he suddenly informed us that we were in danger of losing our
insurance altogether. Our policies had been extended for two months because the
insurance company employee who wrote them had gone on vacation. If we couldn’t
get new policies written before the end of the extension, we might find
ourselves without any insurance at all.

I didn’t get it. How was it possible that we could be in this
situation just because one employee of a multibillion-dollar insurance company
decided to go on vacation? I asked my partner Sam to call Bob and tell him we
needed to see him. Bob said he was busy but he’d get back to us. Meanwhile, our
new policies came through in the nick of time–on the last day of the extension.
The insurance agent wanted us to believe he’d saved us from a terrible fate.
Bob, for his part, never called back.

I decided I should do some investigating and asked the person
who handles our health insurance and 401(k) program if he knew any good
commercial brokers. He recommended one in particular, a woman he’d known for
years. I called her, and the next day she came to see me. She explained how she
worked. “I’ll come here 90 days before the year ends to review your needs,” she
said. “That way we’ll have plenty of time so the insurance company won’t have
any excuses for extending your policy.”

In many cases, we have only ourselves to blame for the poor
customer service we receive.

“Why would they do that?” I asked. “Because the agent is
negligent and waits until the last minute?”

She just raised her eyebrows, shrugged her shoulders, and
tilted her head. I got the message. “That’s what I figured,” I said.

“Why?” she asked. “Did that happen to you?”

“Yes, it just happened,” I said.

“It wouldn’t happen with me.”

We talked a bit longer, and I had her meet with my partners,
Sam and Louis, before she left. As I walked her to her car, I told her we’d be
in touch.

The problem with the bank was different. We’d had a great
relationship with the people who’d signed us up, but they’d all moved on. The
people who replaced them paid no attention to us. They never called, never came
to see us, never asked what we needed. At times, it seemed as if they’d
forgotten who was working for whom. For example, whenever a question arose as to
the interest rate we should be charged, they automatically went to the higher
rate. My accounting people would then call and request the lower rate. The woman
they spoke to would act as though they were requesting a huge favor. If they
protested, she became nasty. I finally called her myself. “Listen to me,” I
said. “I am the customer. You are the provider. When my people call, you’re
supposed to help them, not lecture them.” She became even more

To make matters worse, the bank began forcing us to pay for its
mistakes. When it got burned by another customer, it changed the auditing rules,
with the result that a typical audit now took 12 days instead of two. Of course,
we were the ones who got charged for the accountants’ extra time. I would never
have done that to my customers.

Then there was the accounting firm, which had come strongly
recommended by the bank. We had borrowed a substantial amount of money, and the
bank wanted us to provide certified financial statements. That meant hiring a
larger accounting firm than the one we’d been using. Sam and I interviewed four
or five candidates and chose one, mainly because we liked the managing partner.
I’ll call him Edgar. He was a good salesman, and he treated us well. Once or
twice a year, he’d come to see us, take us out to lunch, and ask what else we
might need from his firm. We were satisfied.

Then, about three years ago, there was a palace coup at the
firm, and Edgar was forced out. His successor–let’s call him Bert–delivered
the news to us in person. He said he’d be handling our account in the future. I
told him I just wanted him to stay in touch, visit us now and then, and return
my phone calls. He promised he would. But he didn’t. Eighteen months went by,
and we heard not a word from Bert. At one point, we ran into a problem with an
audit. I called Bert, and he didn’t call back. Sam eventually resolved the
problem, but I was annoyed. Bert had promised to return my calls. Maybe he
sensed my annoyance because a couple of months later, on a Monday morning, an
envelope arrived containing four tickets to a Mets game scheduled for that
Thursday at 1:30 p.m. There was also a note: “Have a good time at the game.
Bert.” The gesture aggravated me even more. I found it insulting. He obviously
had tickets he couldn’t get rid of, so he decided to pawn them off on me–as if
I’d drop everything to spend a whole weekday afternoon watching the Mets try to
stay out of last place. And the seats were terrible.

Sam called Bert and told him we had to see him–pronto. He
finally showed up, and I let him know exactly how I felt about the tickets, the
unreturned phone calls, and the lack of contact in general. We were a six-figure
account, I reminded him; we deserved better. Bert apologized profusely. The
previous 18 months had been tough, he said. I agreed to give him another

But a year went by with no calls or visits from Bert. In the
next audit, a dispute arose over a footnote the auditor wanted to include. I
thought it unnecessary. Sam believed we could resolve the matter by changing the
footnote’s wording. I said I’d do whatever our lawyer advised. So we called the
lawyer, who said the footnote was absolutely unnecessary. I said I wanted to see
Bert. Sam called Bert, who said he’d just heard about the problem and agreed
that we didn’t need the footnote. As for coming to see us, Bert was busy and
couldn’t make it for a while. “Is he going to call?” I asked Sam.

“I’ll let him know you want to hear from him,” Sam

“He’s got 30 days,” I said.

The 30 days came and went without a call. Instead, we got a
holiday greeting card from the firm. When I opened it, Bert’s business card
dropped out. I just shook my head. We had to be one of his largest clients.
Didn’t we deserve a personal note?

I was still stewing when I boarded the JetBlue flight from New
York to Oakland, Calif. As I watched Neeleman patiently move from customer to
customer–listening to their concerns, answering their questions, telling them
how to get their problems solved–I couldn’t help thinking about Bert and Bob
and the woman at the bank. Here I was, getting first-class customer service from
the CEO of an airline that had sold me a ticket for $154. Shouldn’t I expect the
same from suppliers to whom I was paying tens of thousands of dollars? Was it
too much to ask that they return my phone calls?

As soon as I got home, I put the wheels in motion to replace
all three suppliers. The bank won a reprieve by coming back to us with an offer
we couldn’t refuse. We’ll be monitoring the service its people give us in the
future. In the meantime, Bert and Bob are gone. If they want to know whom to
blame, they need only look in the mirror–or take a trip on JetBlue.

Norm Brodsky ( ) is a veteran entrepreneur whose
six businesses include a three-time Inc. 500 company. His co-author is
editor-at-large Bo Burlingham.

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Eli’s Committment to Outstanding Customer Service recognized by a very important customer—a student at Kendall College

Tonight Jolene Worthington, our Executive Vice President, and I were
delighted to attend an opening reception at the new Kendall College. It was a
pleasure to come home and find this e-mail recognizing our master cake creator,
Martha Komoll, and our other associates for their enthusiastic response.
Dear Marc,
I am a student at Kendall College, enrolled in the Baking and Pastry
certificate program. This quarter I am studying the art of sculpted cakes. One
of my research papers is to locate and interview a local cake sculptor who has
been instrumental in the growth and awareness of the sculpted cake industry. I
am a former Chicagoan who has enjoyed your products for many years, and am
always amazed at the unique cheesecake products you produce for many Chicagoland
events. Taking a suggestion from a family member, I contacted your company and
was directed to Martha Komoll. Yesterday, I was able to meet with Martha who
eagerly shared her passion for sculpted cakes with me. I was delighted and
inspired as she shared her pastry journey. Other bakeries I had contacted were
not as interested in helping me with my project. Each employee I had contact
with at your company, beginning with the first phone call, was pleasant and
interested in assisting me. I just wanted to thank you and your employees for
the positive response and encouragement.
C. Orlow

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Eli’s Commitment to Custoemr Service–to be the best–bar none

When it comes to customer service, we work diligently to give the best
service possible. My dad, Eli, put on his menu that “we shall serve great food,
at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always the best.” To me, that
means, we are committed to using the best ingredients, with the best trained
associates, and then create the best in the world desserts.

Our commitment to quality doesn’t end when our products leave our door. We
want to hear from our customers when we do great and even more importantly if
our products are not up to the high standards we set.

We faced a number of challenges this year with service for the Christmas
holidays. Our primary delivery partner is Fed Ex and they were hit by a major
ice and snow storm at their Memphis hub and in many cities in the east and
Midwest. Our customer service staff was in on Christmas Eve and we did work
through the weekend via e-mail to see what was and what was not delivered.
Regrettably, a number of packages did not get delivered on Christmas Eve and
were taken to their destination on Monday, December 27th. By then the carefully
packaged styrofoam boxes had seen their dry ice evaporate and we advised
customers to destroy the product and that we would reship at our expense with a
letter of apology.

One of our many customer interactions was with Lisa Butenhoff of Washington
DC, who contacted us on Christmas Day when her gift, ordered a number of weeks
in advance, had not arrived as committed on Christmas Eve. Because she wrote us
and left a cell phone number, we were able to call her and write her to share
what we knew of the Fed Ex delivery problems.

On Monday morning, our customer service manager, Donna Carberry, confirmed
with Fed Ex that the package had been held up because of the storm and was out
for delivery that day. We advised her to have the recipient destroy it and then
reshipped for Wednesday delivery,

This is the response that we received from Lisa today:

That’s super! Thanks so much! As a communications director

I can honestly say that I have never encountered better customer

Lisa, thanks for the compliment. We really don’t want to earn our reputation
on how we react when things go wrong; it is much better to celebrate the
wonderful comments. But, we will not rest until we work as hard as possible to
make a wrong right and turn an unhappy customer into an Eli’s believer. As my
dad taught us, there is one thing that can never be valued, and that is good

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