In specialty coffee there is a requirement to take care of the product you are serving to some degree. We focus our attentions on brew ratios, water temperature, ground size, and many other specific details in making sure the quality in the cup shines through. While coffee preparation is paramount in telling the quality story of all those who touched the product with intention, I believe there has been a long overlooked element in truly sharing the depth of care with the final consumer.
What I am talking about is customer service. In my career in the coffee industry I have noticed a somewhat interesting trend in some retail establishments. A trend where the more you know about your coffee the higher the wall between you and the novice coffee drinker. I know most times it is not the intention of the barista who is investing massive time to make sure drinks TASTE good, but how much time is invested in making sure it is received by the guest on the other side of the counter? What good is all this knowledge if we don’t form enough relationship with the recipient to share it with them?
Customer service for decades has been seen as the way YOU serve customers. Period. It is the show you put on in your cafe to entertain and engage customers with your dazzling product and personality. Those things are not bad, but I believe there is more opportunity for servers who can shift the spotlight from themselves to those who walk through the door and pay to be there.
The shift has to happen in the way we engage people at a heart level. We need to commit not only to bring something good to people, but to draw good out of people! Everyone loves to spend time with that friend that draws out the best in them, wouldn’t your customers feel the same way?
At the core you may not change anything you do on a daily basis but this minor shift of perspective could make for massive impact to your relationships, customer loyalty, and as a natural byproduct your profitability. This of course requires more effort than just hiding behind an espresso machine and making good drinks. That being said, your customers and community are worth it. Your coffee is worth it. Your industry is worth it.
Coffee is love, love is life, and life is good!
Director of Sales and Marketing, Victrola Coffee Roasters