As a service-oriented business, one of our primary objectives is keeping customers happy and calling again and again for great craft-roasted coffee and related beverage products. Each time we interact with a customer, we are setting the bar for the next time. When the occasion arises that we haven’t maintained or exceeded the level of service the customer expects, we risk opening the door for a competitor to come in and take our place. This is the same in almost every business, including your own.
As humans, you and your staff are vulnerable to making mistakes or having a bad day here or there. But, when you allow this impact your customers, the perception they have for you changes as well. People tend to have short memories, and no matter how stellar your service was before, if you fall short today, your customer may start looking for other options.
In our training classes, we often do a little exercise. We all close our eyes, and imagine that someone we barely know walks up and puts $1000 in our hand. We ask, “What would you do with all that money?” So far, no one has said they would throw in the trash. Usually someone asks something like, “Who would ever do something like that?” And the answer is, “All of us.” A good, loyal café customer will spend $1000 or more per year in their favorite java joint. So, when we fail to provide great service, it’s the same as tossing your cash in the trash.
Another example of how we might lose business without even realizing it is an instant that happened at one of our customer’s stores. Recently, a lady was sitting in her car near the café. A new cashier noticed that she appeared to be on her laptop. He walked out to her to inform her that the WiFi was for paying customers only, and asked her to come in and make a purchase or leave. She left. It turns out that the lady happened to be a well-known real estate agent, who is actually a regular and often holds meetings at this café. Being new, the employee didn’t know this. Fortunately, the manager was able to track her down and address the situation immediately. He apologized to her, coached the employee and comped her next visit. Now, when this same lady is banging out emails before coming in, she is sometimes greeted with a knock on her window and her “usual” ready-made.
If not for the manager’s quick action, the name and reputation of this shop would be on the line with each new client or colleague the agent meets. Instead, she continues to spend about twenty dollars per week, plus the occasional gifts she buys for clients. By acting quickly, the manager didn’t allow the negative experience to fester in the customer’s mind. This very bad experience was overcome with an overwhelmingly positive one. This customer has probably forgotten all about this exchange, but her experience has led to a valuable learning opportunity for us all.
Always remember that in the minds of consumers, you are as good today as you will ever be. If you consistently offer great experiences, you are more apt to keep those happy folk coming in time and time again. Remember to coach your staff on the importance of stellar customer service and you will see a happier, more loyal customer base.