When a brand delivers a remarkable experience that leaves you wanting more, we call that a THIRST® moment.

In the world of creating brand experiences, there are people just doing their job – and then there are the THIRST makers – a backbone of people who infuse their profession with passion and pride. They build the relationships that make your brand memorable.

Our picks for 2015 THIRST Makers are in – and we applaud you.

Phil Shepard, MacVantage, RTP

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with technology. We love it when it works. We hate it when it doesn’t. Just when we’re ready to jump, in comes MacVantage. Few people in our lives deserve to wear a superhero cape, but when it comes to saving our sanity, Phil Shepard is our man of the year.

2015 Customer Service

Beverly Murray writes,

See if this sounds familiar … you’re on a deadline, you’re rolling on that perfect thought, and errrrrrrrrk. We’ve all had it happen. The computer decides to remind you who is actually in control.

With high hopes and fingers crossed, we call Phil at MacVantage. For almost a decade he has been helping our team triage issues, setting preventive SOPs and on occasion, talking us off the ledge. Along the way he has faced many a computer battle and, from most, he has emerged victorious.

But not all battles can be won, and it is in that moment we see the true value of our friend Phil. There are days when he simply cannot recover a file or find a bug. It is on those days when our anxiety is at its highest and he is at his best. At present I am experiencing an issue that can only be fixed with an upgrade to my system, but an upgrade would render another piece of software that I need unusable. Rock, meet hard place. Could Phil solve the problem today? Yes, but the money we would invest in his hand-to-hand combat with my system would better be spent on more pressing issues for the staff. And he knows that if I am patient we stand to not only solve my problem in the near future, but also save quite a few dollars along the way. Translation: he is giving up revenue to do what is best for us. Smile, meet face.

If you own an Apple product and are seeking someone who brings a strategic eye to planning, tactical skills to problem solving and integrity, you can count on Phil Shepard of MacVantage.

Katie Orcutt, Residence Inn, Downtown Louisville, KY

Getting the VIP treatment after years and years of being a loyal customer is seemingly expected. But that’s not how Katie Orcutt does business. You are the most important person to her and she’ll let you know it, right out of the gate.

2015 Customer Service

Chris Lien writes,

This year my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We had talked about taking a trip or maybe just doing the “dinner and a movie” thing to celebrate.

A few months prior to the big day, my wife had accepted a new job. Then a few weeks prior, she learned she was going to Louisville for training on our big day. Now what?

I got her itinerary and thought maybe, just maybe, I could still surprise her. I called her hotel and hoped someone with a heart would answer. She did. Her name was Katie Orcutt.

I explained my dilemma to Katie and said I’d like to do something nice for my wife. I asked if I could send a bottle of wine to the hotel and have them put it in her room. Katie upped the ante. She said she lived near a wine shop and she could pick it up for me. (What?! Yes.)

I sent her images of a couple of her favorite bottles. On the big day, I called Katie to make sure everything was a go. She had the wine and it was chilling. She’d put it up in my wife’s room right before she got back from training. But Katie had her own surprises.

When my wife got to her room, she called me immediately and thanked me for everything. I asked what did she mean by everything? She said the wine, the flowers and the note. Katie made my wife tear up and left me speechless.

There are awesome people out there and if you ever find yourself in downtown Louisville, stay at the Residence Inn. Katie will take care of you.

Thank you, Katie. You rock.

The Entire Team at You Lucky Dog, Raleigh

Not everyone considers their dog a member of the family. When you do, and you put them in someone else’s care, peace of mind is paramount and every detail is judged. Knowing that you’re under a microscope, it has to be hard to deliver a praiseworthy experience year after year. It takes skill, determination and a good set of bones.

2015 Customer Service

Susan Nettles writes,

When I showed up at doggie daycares asking for tours without an appointment, some places flat-out denied my request. Others took me around and apologized for this mess or that being out of place, etc. Long story short, You Lucky Dog was the winner. But it wasn’t just the successful unexpected visit that won me over, it was their vetting policy prior to accepting my dog as a member of the pack.

As a pack daycare, they nurture a dog’s instinctive nature to learn rules and boundaries from interactions with the other dogs, effectively becoming part of the pack and producing a more well-rounded social dog. As safety is a top priority, You Lucky Dog requires an evaluation to ensure the dog is a good fit for this style of daycare. If the dog isn’t a good fit, it means they have to turn a customers away to keep the pack healthy.

Recently I witnessed this situation unfold, where a customer/dog was not a good match. I was impressed by the pack leader, Mike Burris, who handled the unfortunate situation with care and kindness. Being a customer for more than four years, there are a dozen great things I could say about You Lucky Dog but the peace of mind I have in knowing that my dog, as well as others in the pack, will have a happy and safe experience because the team puts my dog’s well-being over money is priceless. My pup Mousse is bursting with excitement as he greets each of the You Lucky Dog staff as if they were family. Because they are.

Hit me up if you want my “grateful dozen.” I’m happy to provide it!