Although I thought the 8 points listed below were common sense, I’ve been amazed through my years of experience just how often I’ve had to train employees in the effective use of sensible customer service. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your employees just know what great customer service is … train them with these 8 points just to be sure.
1. Greet Immediately or Acknowledge Presence
Customers should be greeted as soon as they walk through the door, or at least acknowledged with eye contact and a smile. Often when I have a line form quickly, I’ll say “Good Morning Everyone, I’ll be with you soon” with a great big smile. It’s important that everyone at your company follow this point … even if they don’t directly deal with your customers (like the accountant or outside sales rep).
2. Remember Names and Drinks
It’s always best if you can refer to a customer by their name and even better if you can recall their usual drink order if they have one. People love routines and 95% or so of regular customers will order the same drink every day. I have a hard time remembering names so I let people know up front “I’ll probably ask you a few times more until it sticks in my head, but it will eventually stick.”
3. Ensure Quality
Ensure that you’re always providing the best quality products at all times. This means fresh coffee no more than 2 hours old, no grounds in the cup, and tasted for quality per batch. Adjust your espresso shots as often as necessary to ensure the best tasting shots at the right extraction time. Don’t use over-steamed milk and don’t re-steam milk. Ensure all baristas are following the same recipes for consistency … it’s fine if they put their own unique twist on drinks if customers ask for it that way.
4. Act with Urgency
Customers don’t mind a line as long as they see that staff is moving quickly to help everyone in the most timely manner. I’m often behind the bar by myself for at least the first hour of opening and I often develop a line … but I move quickly and I follow the other points of this post and it keeps my customers happy to wait a few minutes for their drinks.
5. Correcting Mistakes
Listen to your customer’s complaint, repeat back what you’ve heard, offer a sincere apology, ask what you can do to correct the situation, and go above and beyond to ensure the customer leaves happy and will return another time. I never mind re-making a drink or offering a customer a Free Drink Card (if they are in a hurry and don’t have time to wait) and I find that 90% of the time, the customer will return to give us another chance to wow them. I go out of my way to remember a messed up drink and what the correct drink should have been that they wanted … which impresses them even more that I remembered.
6. Share Your Knowledge
Customers to specialty coffee shops love to learn about the world of coffee, it’s important that you share your knowledge and educate them. Anytime we have a lull in the customer flow or anytime a customer asks a knowledge question, I love to take a few moments to explain a specialty drink, an origin coffee, a brewing method, or my favorites of any of those to them. Always make time to educate your customers.
7. Clean As You Go
Customers appreciate and deserve a clean environment in which to enjoy their purchases. Make sure to keep your work place clean by tidying up as you work and whenever you have a little lull in the customer flow. I always use the break in customer flow to re-tidy my area, re-brew coffees, re-stock and replenish and help out my coworkers with doing all the same in their area. This makes for a great team environment … and a clean workplace.
8. Thank and Ask for Return
Say Thank You as customers leave and be sure to say “see you tomorrow” or something to the effect of asking them to return. I’ll often say to regular customers “Thanks Don, see you tomorrow” or “See you Monday” if I know they don’t come in on the weekends. Customers often will tell us when they are going on vacation or will be out of town, just so we know they won’t be in as usual. I love the sense of shared community that this develops in our coffeeshop.