CAO Event: Customer Service Done Right And Some Cigar News

Antoni Gaudi’s Sun MosaicI just love the way things work out. The day following an immensely unpleasant customer service experience (that I probably over-reacted to), I have on the best customer interactions I’ve had in a long time. It was at the local cigar shop and the brilliant performance was given by the CAO cigar representative on hand. (I want to say his name was Jerry, but my wife is sure it was Jeff. Sorry, man! If you do find this blog, please correct me!)

Now I know what your thinking. (Isn’t it awesome how I always seem to know?) You’re thinking I’m biased in favor of anything involving cigars. That no matter how bad any cigar experience can be, I’m still viewing it through candela-colored glasses. You’re probably right. But in this case it was a great experience. Quantifiably (or qualifiably?) great. Let me tell you why.

The cigar rep didn’t just recite his rap. That isn’t to say he didn’t get it in there, he just worked it seamlessly into the conversation. A conversation in which we were both contributers. Conversation is the key here. That brings me to the next point.

He asked relevant questions and listened attentively to the answers. And that’s saying a lot. How often have you been in any conversation and actually noticed that the person you were talking to was actually involved in the conversation? Most people spend the time you’re talking thinking about what they’ll say next. Even in customer service. I’ve met a number of cigar reps, and while I’ve never met one that wasn’t a nice guy, this cigar rep was the first one that was fully engaged in the conversation. Heck, as I was driving away, it occurred to me that his event was ending soon and it would have been fun to invite him over to the pub nearby for a pint or two and a cigar. How many people in customer service have you met that you’d like to drink with?

He took decisive action to rectify a problem. I didn’t go to the event planning to bring up my less than stellar experiences with CAO cigars. But they did come up in the conversation. I mentioned my joy and embarrassing disappointment with the Sopranos cigar earlier this year. How the first was a beauty and but the ones I shared with my buddies later were like smoking rolled-up notebook paper. He expressed concern and wanted to know more about the cigars and where I’d purchased them. He attempted to troubleshoot the problem. He theorized what may have caused it (an improperly humidified box mixed with one that was). And finally he apologized, and said he wished he had a couple of Sopranos to give me to make up for the experience. And then to my complete surprise, he gave me a big handful of the cigars he did have on hand! Awesome! Hey, I was happy with the concern and the apology.

An experience like this is enough to make a loyal customer out of anyone. So for the foreseeable future, Brian is a CAO fanboy. That doesn’t mean I will suddenly start loving the Vision (sorry, even I can’t do that), but I probably will be smoking a lot more CAO cigars in the future! (Especially now that I have a bunch of freebies!) 🙂

CAO GoldOK, now for some cigar news! I did my best to get the scoop on what CAO is up to, and here’s what I got.

CAO Sopranos
The word now is that CAO will not be discontinuing the Sopranos line. Because the show is in syndication and there has been buzz about a possible movie, this line is here to stay. So if you’ve noticed a sudden burst of availability in this line of cigars (I have), rest assured, it’s not the last hurrah. It’s a trend.

And now for some bad news. There is no plan, as of this moment, of re-releasing these cigars in less expensive boxes or bundles. Get used to the $10+ per stick price tag. It isn’t going to change. Sorry. 😦

CAO Criollo
Apparently the Criollo is done. Unless I completely misunderstood the cigar rep, they’re difficult to find because they’re no longer being made. (He may also have meant that this year’s Criollo is finished. Either way, they’re going to get scarce for a while at least.) I don’t know what to think about this news, because I haven’t tried one yet. But I plan to very soon. Anyway, if you like this cigar and can still find it, now is probably the right time to stock up on it!
[UPDATE: Nothing to see here, move along, move along…]

CAO 65th Anniversary
Another cigar they’re not making anymore is the 65th anniversary. That probably surprises no one, as it was a cigar created to commemorate Cano A. Ozgener’s 65th birthday in 2001. So why am I bringing it up? Well we discussed this cigar at some length. The word is that six thousand of these Nicaraguan puros were made, but somehow, there are still a few available out there. How do I know? I just smoked one of these babies the other night, and I have a box of ten way on the way. If the rest smoke like this first one, I’m going to be putting up a very positive review down the road. Want to know more? Check out the CAO head-honcho’s words on the cigar.

Well that about sums it up. It’s been a long week, and it’s nice to end it on a positive note. 8)

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  1. Jon Huber said,

    July 19, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Brian – Thank you for the kind words.

    Just wanted you to know that the CAO Criollo line is still going strong and we have no plans to discontinue this line.


    Jon Huber
    Chief Marketing Officer

    CAO International, Inc.

  2. Brian said,

    July 19, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I stand corrected! Thanks for the update, Jon! 🙂

  3. jeff tinnell said,

    July 23, 2007 at 10:34 am

    i just want to say thank you for the kind words in your blog concerning our meeting. It was definitely my pleasure to talk with you that day at Cigar World.
    Also your wife was right, my name is Jeff, but that’s ok as that led to my acquiring a new nickname around the office now.

    I noticed that Jon Huber contacted you about the Criollo still being alive and kicking. I apologize if any of my comments were misleading in that respect. Any way if you are ever in Nashville please come visit our office and I will give you the “grand” tour and we can enjoy a smoke together.

    “Jerry” Jeff Tinnell

  4. Brian said,

    July 23, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Hey “Jerry”,

    I seem to have this skill with creating nicknames that stick… Just ask my friend “Monkey Poo” Harris. Even my wife calls him that now. 🙂 It probably has something to do with me being really bad with names.

    No worries about the Criollo. I was sort of fishing for a bit of news, and probably took a few liberties with what was actually said. Or perhaps I was thinking of the wrong line. (I did note an absence of a particular cigar on the CAO website…)

    Actually, we will in fact be coming through Nashville on an upcoming roadtrip I mentioned earlier on this blog. So if you’re around the last week of August, we can definitely enjoy a cigar!

  5. July 30, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    […] after this event and my great experience at the recent CAO event, I’ve decided to make a point to attend more cigar events in the future. (Including RTDA!) […]

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