We spend a great deal of our time assessing how we can best serve our prospective customers. I have a lot I want to say on the topic because it becomes multifaceted very quickly with many things affecting the end result, much like a cup of coffee I guess…
So as a starting point for coming posts I am going to attempt to define service in direct relation to our business.
Customer service is about understanding, communication and problem solving. As the server, your job is to communicate to the customer about the high quality product you have on offer and how it relates to them and their needs and expectations.
This is very interesting to think about. Good service is often stated as providing the customer with exactly what they ask for. This only rings true if you are capable of offering them what they are asking for. I think this is what people are scared to openly state in hospitality and especially coffee- Your product doesn’t have to please everybody and that’s ok! It needs to deliver on what it intends to achieve and promises to offer.
With coffee (as I’m sure is the case with many products) there are two ways you can go about offering a product to the market place.
A- Look at what people want and currently buy, what’s commercially successful and in demand. Then provide this product.
B- Develop and innovate, offer a product in a format that isn’t widely available which has many merits to be explored. A product you then almost create a market for, or in the least diverge from the current market. In this instance an exploration of coffees flavour possibilities.
For A, the customer has an expectation of what you should provide and if you are good at this you will provide it to a high standard.
We fit into the B category. Like in any emerging specialist field, your product may not be fully understood by the customer. It is very different and may not do what you’d expect. In fact you may not want to purchase what we have to offer at all and that is absolutely fine. The idea of pleasing everybody is a fallacy.
For this model to work the product and its merits needs to be well explained, otherwise it is unfair on the customer and equally on the business which could be judged on something it doesn’t intend to achieve or offer.
To a degree this is obvious and straightforward. I think the need to clarify is necessary as in the coffee shop industry there really aren’t many businesses that fit into the B category.
It is easy to give in and offer something that requires no explanation. We choose to offer and explore the possibilities of this amazing beverage. The most important thing to note here is that there is a wide audience that appreciate this approach to coffee.
For our model good service is understanding and empathising with the customer. The challenge for staff is to offer far more guidance, knowledge and understanding than they may be used to from other hospitality roles.
This is what my next post will address- Staff are as much a part of the product we offer as the cup of coffee we serve.