Six Ways to Freshen Up Service at Your Store

Customer service is something any business owner should always be focused on—and it’s particularly important for retail coffee businesses.

Your customers come into your shop for the local personal touch, as much as for the quality beverages you produce. It’s important to remind your staff and new hires of how important the little things are. We have provided a few tried and true ideas, to help boost your customer service levels!Improve Customer Service At Your Store

Be Yourself: Friendly greetings should carry some personality. Customers know when they are being sincerely greeted vs. just fed a forced hello. With some freedom your employees can share some of who they are with the customers, and still meet the greeting requirements for high-level customer care!

Get Feedback: Make sure your baristas, managers or servers are all listening to complaints and compliments. Huddle with your employees monthly/weekly to get their feedback on customer satisfaction. Did they over hear any complaints on something in your shop? You should know about it—and be doing your best to meet concerns. Not every customer is going to be 100% pleased, but re-occurring complaints should be addressed.

Respond Quickly and Earnestly: If a customer is dissatisfied with any aspect of your product or service, be sure to address their concerns right away. Not only will a quick solution appease the complaining customer, it will make all other customers in your store at the time feel more comfortable. You should also be checking the internet regularly for complaints/compliments on your business. Reinforce the compliments with your employees and address complaints professionally.

Show Your Personality: Encourage your baristas and servers to come out from behind the counter when it’s slow. Double check to see if the customers are doing all right, and if there is anything that can be done to make their visit better. When customers feel friendlier with your employees: they are more likely to hang around, come back or order more drinks and food.

Know the Menu: When your employees are well educated, they implement the best customer service. Give your employees all the information you can on new products so they can share this information with customers. Even have servers and baristas sample new products so they can describe them to customers. What coffee pairs best with the new granola bars you have? If your employees can answer questions about your products they can sell them.

Strive for Quality: If your employees are all creating consistently good and similar drinks, your customers will always be satisfied with their beverage experience. To help with this we offer Coffee College. Our Specialty Coffee Basics course teaches employees how to prepare espresso, as well as other hot, iced and blended made-to-order beverages properly drink-after-drink, customer-after-customer. Training ensures quality and improves productivity, sales and customer satisfaction.

For more customer service tips, contact our Customer Care Associates at 800.835.5943 and ask for more information!

Twenty Years Tell Us… Training Never Ends!

Coffee CollegeThe industry is not the same as it was in 1994. Starbucks was not a household name, “cappuccinos” came from machines at the gas stations, and espresso was something only serious coffee drinkers would attempt. Today, you can get reasonable facsimiles of true espresso beverages almost anywhere. Even novices say “espresso” without an “x.” As the industry has changed, so have the standards and the trends.

Staying on top of the newest trends, and training your staff accordingly, helps keep you relevant and up-to-date. Anticipating customer desires before they ask is one of the highest levels of customer service you can provide. Use your new found knowledge to educate your customers, thus raising the bar for your competition who may not be so savvy. For example, do you offer a featured espresso such as a single-origin option? Do you offer single-cup brews? Does your menu include tea lattes? Your Stockton Graham & Co. support team is a great resource for suggestions and guidance on these and many other topics.

Stockton Graham & Co. Coffee CollegeWhile trends are important, updating and ensuring consistent standards is paramount.  Staff calibration, or “retraining,” is a great way to ensure that your customers enjoy the same drink no matter who makes it. We found this to be a particular problem for a client with several locations. After some intensive “Train the Trainer” sessions, followed by in-store recalibrations, this client reported a substantial growth in beverage sales at the end of the fiscal year. Consider sending your trainer to our Coffee College to get updated, recalibrated and refreshed. Coffee College is offered several times a year and is conducted by our own industry professionals who bring many decades of combined experience to the table for you.

STG513-ID-stickerOur industry continues to grow and evolve with new innovations emerging all the time. To remain on the cutting edge, know that you can rely on Stockton Graham & Co. keeping up with the newest products and keeping your staff well-trained is just aspect to ensuring great customer service and the vitality of your business.

Give us a call at 800.835.5943 today to schedule your staff recalibration or click here to view our Coffee College event calendar!

How to Recover from a Negative Service Experience & Gain a Customer for Life

We’ve all been on the receiving end of bad customer service. Recently I attempted to purchase an appliance from a large retailer close to my home. After I noticed a mistake made by the salesperson who sold me the equipment, I made multiple attempts to visit and call to correct the situation. After being bounced around and brushed aside one too many times in calling queues and personal visits over the course of three weeks, I lost my cool, canceled my order and took my business elsewhere. Long story short, I’ll never set foot inside this store ever again.

In retrospect, the one thing that really set me off was that nobody seemed to care. Bad customer experiences almost always seem to start this way, regardless of the industry, and are fueled by the perceived inability to find anyone able or willing to resolve an issue. The good news is that almost every negative customer experience can be recovered from and instead of losing a customer forever, a retailer can gain a loyal fan for life.

In the specialty beverage industry, service recovery begins and ends with three key points:

1) Listening
Truly listening to their concerns starts the road to recovery. Without listening to the problem, how would anybody know how to solve it?

If a customer is particularly upset and vocal, don’t take it personally. Keeping cool, calm and concerned is the only way to gain control of the situation to your benefit. Also, even if the customer is the one in the wrong, don’t try to deny their beef. That will only compound the problem.

2) Apologizing
“I am very sorry you had a bad experience so, please…

3) …I hope you’ll allow me to make it up to you.”
Here’s where the deal can be sealed, so finish strong. Be sure and ask, “What can I do to make things better?” 99 times out of 100 they aren’t going to ask for free drinks for a year. In almost every instance, disgruntled customers will request much less than what you would have ultimately been willing to give them. Always close with a card for a free drink of their choice and a big smile to encourage them to come back.

Dealing with an upset customer can be one of the most difficult ordeals any business owner or employee can experience, however, if managed correctly, an irritated customer can become a lucrative opportunity. I’ve heard from numerous businesspeople who’ve told me irate customers have miraculously transformed into a loyal converts and fans for life.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.

What brings your coffee customers back for more? Its not super low pricing…

On the social networking site Barista Exchange, a member posed the question, “What brings your [customer’s back for more]?” In other words, what motivates repeat business? I thought this was an excellent question, but I also enjoyed the response from Chris Defario, Training Director at The Coffee Institute and champion latte artist.

He conducted a street survey in Seattle and posed the question, “What keeps you coming back to your coffee shop of choice?” Roughly 50% of those surveyed answered quality, 25% said service, 20% said atmosphere and 5% said price. Chris’ response to his results is something we can all take to heart, especially during these times:

My assertion was that quality, service, and atmosphere are the main things that influence loyalty.
In that order. Price rarely drives loyalty. People by and large prefer a quality experience when dealing with specialty coffee.

By focusing on offering outstanding service and quality, you can keep your best customers happy and expand your base. You aren’t going to gain a bunch of customers by having the “cheapest cup of coffee in town.” 

If you’d like to upgrade your service and quality levels dramatically, while implementing sustainable and adaptable employee training,  give Stockton Graham & Co. a call at 800.835.5943 to learn more about Stockton Graham University and Coffee College.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.