Coffee with a Side of Customer Service

img_0244Imagine what it is like to work in the Starbucks that sits in the lobby of a hotel near downtown Atlanta.  Can you picture it? Hustle, bustle and lot of customers.

I was a guest at this hotel recently and Starbucks was part of my routine 3 mornings as I attended a conference.  That’s where I met Jacob.  You need to know him too.

I mentioned this particular Starbucks receives a LOT of traffic and I suspect serves a LOT of coffee.  That pace could fluster many folks but not Jacob. He’s been working at this Starbucks for 9 years.  And sis experience shows.  Each morning I was a patron, I watched him interact with the customers before me in line and with great consistency provided me the same great experience.

So, why share a story about a busy Starbucks?  Because, in a busy marketplace, when you see someone really go above and beyond, you want to tell someone. That what a great customer experience will do! Jacob demonstrated something unique I believe many businesses can learn from:

He knew his customers.
Time and time again I heard him say to customers, “Good morning.” “Welcome back.” or “Great to see you again today.”  Many (not all) of his customers were repeat – at least for the week – and Jacob knew it.  Something as simple as a “welcome back” sets the tone for a positive encounter.  And for me, by day 2, he knew I was a returning guest.  Why does this matter? In today’s service war, customers want to be known.  And that simple, small gesture of familiarity creates a bond with your customers. 

He looked out for my interests.
One morning I ordered oatmeal , a banana and coffee.  Jacob began entering my order then offered me the oatmeal combo. “By substituting the orange juice with your coffee, I can save you several cents.”   I loved that!  It may have just been a few cents but it mattered to me and made me feel like Jacob was looking out for me.  He offered a small gesture that meant a lot.

He offered a positive spin.
Jacob took ownership of everything behind the counter and acted as though the restaurant was his own.  One morning I ordered a banana with my coffee.  As he handed me one he apologized for the number of spots on it and said, “I’m sorry this banana has several spots on it.  It may not look as good but bananas are sweeter when they are more ripe.  I hope you enjoy it.”  Now think about that. What could have been passed on me as an overripe fruit was explained so I wouldn’t second guess the item. And you know what? It did taste sweeter!  It may sound small, but he took that one extra step to ensure I had a positive encounter.

Small steps that created a memorable experience for me.  Those little “extras” didn’t cost Starbucks a dime but they sure added value for me.   What about your business?  Do your employees take those extra steps for your customers?   Imagine the positive experience your customers could gain by those extra steps of effort from your team.  Pretty exciting isn’t it?  Maybe you should grab a cup of coffee and dream a little…and maybe you’ll meet a “Jacob” in the process.

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