8 Points of Coffee Shop Customer Service

Percolated perfection!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.

7 More Local Marketing ideas for your Coffee Shop

AIM_icon_256pxI hope you got some great marketing results from my first article of 7 Local Marketing ideas for your Coffee Shop, but if you’re looking for more sure-fire ways to increase sales and develop your customer base, then here are 7 more ideas that I know will help.

I have personally used and seen the results of these marketing efforts for different coffee shops that I’ve worked at, so I know they will work for you too if you just put them to use.

  1. Schools – Offer a discount (10% Off) to all Teachers and Students, have a Parents Day promotion where once a week all parents who have a student in an area school gets a discount … or buy 1 get 1 free deal, provide coffee and refreshments to all the PTA meetings, you may want to go so far as to provide coffee to the Teacher’s Lounge, that way you get the teachers hooked on your product. Put an ad in the school papers to support the schools more. Put an ad in the Yearbook, something looked at for years to come.
  2. Radio Station – Supply coffee and pastries in the morning to the radio talk show hosts make sure you leave some marketing materials that mention your business details in case they want to give those out over the air, host a radio contest but make it something memorable … say the tenth caller to the talk show gets a month of free drinks (limit one per day and only for winner), you know the talk show hosts are ALWAYS doing contests … so supply coffee at those contests and events and again just make sure you have marketing materials with all your contact and business info on them.
  3. Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts Troops – Supply refreshments for troops, give discounts to troop leaders and parents, cross-promote National Boy Scout Month (February) or the Girl Scout’s Birthday (March 12th) with beneficial sales portions being donated to local troops … try a tie-in using Girl Scout Cookies in your blended drinks! Supply coffee and refreshments to troop events so parents think positively about your place in the community. Do a presentation at a troop meeting to educate them on the specialness of coffee as a commodity and why Fair Trade is important in the industry.
  4. Big Office Buildings – If you’ve got the man-power then run up a coffee cart to the office floors … make sure you take food items too and not just coffee. Offer special group Catering discounts/specials to supply meetings of 8+ more people, offer special discounts for specific companies (especially during special company events), offer a special discount for a different floor of the building one day a week and rotate floors. Make sure you promote specials for Secretary Day and Boss Day too.
  5. Hair Salons, Dog Grooming, Auto Mechanic, Car Detailing – Market your business anywhere that customers have to wait or come back within an hour or two. Cross promote with those businesses by offering a discount to their customers and your customers get a discount at their businesses too. Offer a deep discount (at cost if possible) to these businesses to use your coffee as their customer’s coffee so you’ll be mentioned every time someone asks about or compliments the coffee.
  6. Hospitals, Urgent Care Centers, Doctor Offices, Dentist Offices – Again, anywhere that customers have to wait any significant length of time. Also professionals in these fields can afford luxury coffee drinks so they are a great target market themselves. Also try to supply the office coffee at these locations so that when their clients ask where the coffee comes from … you’re the place mentioned.
  7. Affordability – Beat the Big Players in the market by being slightly more affordable on your drink prices with superior products too, word of mouth will quickly spread on this fact.

What other ideas do you have that you need help developing?

Latte Art Competition San Diego 07-24-2014

latte-art-love_barista-chaseSo I attended and competed in my first latte art competition Thursday night July 24th, 2014 at Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park, San Diego.

coffee-and-tea-collective_logo

Although I didn’t make it past the first round, I’m proud of myself for at least getting over my crowd-phobia and being able to compete at all … I can’t believe how nervous I was and how that affected my performance.

At right you’ll see a picture of my typical hearts that I can make on top of lattes, but I don’t have a picture of my competition entry … it was nothing like my best work to say the least.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with a Latte Art competition, this one is regional to San Diego and consists of 4 events at various host coffee companies over the course of a “season” (usually about 3 or 4 months). Two competitors pull out their best latte art craft within the event’s particular parameters (this first event was all free-pour so you could use any design you wanted).

I had a great time at the event though and I’m excited to attend more of them in the near future.

I’d like to thank Coffee & Tea Collective for being great hosts for the competition as well as the company I work for, Café Moto, for providing two different types of cold brew coffee as refreshments for the crowd.

Cheers until next time,

Chase Mann.

Why try a Single Origin espresso shot?

single-shotWhat is a Single Origin espresso (also called an S.O. espresso, or S.O.S for Single Origin Shot)? It’s taking a bean from a single origin country, say Mexico or Brazil and brewing it via the espresso method, which is forcing high temperature water at high pressure through finely ground coffee for a short period of time.

A “traditional” espresso is a coffee or blend of coffees that have been created and roasted specifically for the espresso brewing method to be sipped on it’s own or mixed with other ingredients to make an espresso-based beverage, like a latte or mocha.

Single Origin coffee is often roasted for various brewing methods that require more time and more coarse of a grind. An espresso shot of the same coffee beans will tend to get exaggerated and can often come out tasting weak and overly acidic. To overcome this fact, a S.O. espresso can be pulled to a shorter volume and a longer time to enhance the body and lower the acidity … something I, as a veteran barista, was unaware of until researching and writing this article on the topic.

It’s also been suggested that a Single Origin espresso can be better suited as an Americano than a traditional espresso shot because of the bright acidity and deepened body it offers when extracted into plain hot water.

Any coffee brewing method that you use can change the taste profile of the coffee based on the time brewed, temperature of water, pressure of water, level of grind and the actions of the person making the brew. So by offering a coffee as a S.O. espresso is just another way to let you enjoy that coffee’s natural essences and nuanced flavors in a different brewing style.

Because the coffee’s flavors and characteristics become concentrated and exaggerated, a S.O. espresso is a great way for baristas and customers to learn about a single origin coffee and it’s uniqueness from other beans. Keep this in mind the next time you enter a coffee shop that offers a Single Origin espresso as an option and deciding whether or not to give it a try.

Enjoying or disliking a Single Origin espresso, like any other coffee brewing method, really boils down to personal taste and preference.

What’s your opinion on Single Origin espresso?

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