A tale of two coffee shops

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People often think that becoming customer-focused will increase costs – they’re scared that it will mean more staff, better technology and more features. But sometimes, there are simple little things that can make a huge
difference. Let me share the tale of two coffee shops…

As a Consultant, I find myself in different parts of town every day. Coffee is part of my routine wherever I go, so I get to observe a whole range of rituals at different coffee shops. There are two that fascinate me from a customer experience perspective.

Both coffee shops serve good coffee, make me feel welcome and are quick but take long enough to give me a breather. Perfect. As I collect the coffee, they each do something that has the biggest impact on my experience… one makes it, the other breaks it.

The one that ‘makes it’ does something so small you’d probably not even notice. They put the lid on… then check that it’s on properly. They take less than a second to check the seal the whole way around the cup, and that the sipper isn’t near the seam of the cup. They take the time to make sure I won’t walk off and wear my coffee. They understand that a good coffee = good day, coffee mishap = bad day. I love watching that tiny moment of care and empathy.

The one that ‘breaks it’ also does something small. When they take the order, they write on the bottom of the cup. This is great while they make the coffee, but not so good when they hand over a couple of full cups. I watch so many customers doing a morning balance of bags, folders and laptops turn in to contortionists as they try to lift the coffee over their head to check which is theirs without dropping everything. I love the spectacle, but I’ve found a new coffee shop nearby. It’s all too hard.

So what can we learn from this?

These coffee shops are both doing something so small that has a big impact on their business.

The first has observed customers and identified how they can improve the experience in a way that costs them nothing. The second hasn’t observed customers and it’s costing them everything.

What are the little things that make a difference in your customers’ day?

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On April 20, 2012
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