I regularly meet clients at one of those specialist French coffee shops near our offices in Covent Garden . The location's perfect, it's quiet and comfortable, the food tastes great and the coffee's pretty good too. Surely, a recipe for success.....
But all the effort that's gone in to delivering a great product in great surroundings counts for very little when the coffee shop staff seem incapable of providing an efficient, pleasant service. Let alone anything approaching a smile and a warm welcome. I'm not expecting total joy every time I go (I except that coffee shops aren't there for entertainment) but surely it's not unreasonable to expect an efficient service delivered by people who at least acknowledge my existence. My clients and I now seem to start every meeting by discussing where we are on the barista "misery scale" that day.
Marketing Includes Your SERVICE Proposition Too
Why when the location, product and cost are so good - do the people fail to provide similarly great service?
Perhaps it's me, but if you're going to spend so much time and effort getting the product, marketing and location right, why not spend the same amount on the people - so that they can deliver real service and perhaps the odd smile too! Maybe it's a lack of training, high staff turnover or overstretched managers, but the end result is the same.
We all talk a lot about great customer service, but it's amazing how many service businesses say their customers are their priority and then allow their people to ignore them because they are task focused and not service focused.
People Need to Love Where They Work
Great food, good locations, good coffee get customers through the door but are simply not enough to keep them coming back. I am sure I am not alone in thinking that a smile, hello and helpful attitude are much more appealing - and better for repeat business - than knowing the croissants contain organic French flour. Perhaps it says a lot about the culture of the business and how the people feel who work in it. If it's noticeable to customers and isn't just in one branch or location perhaps its a brand that's best avoided? After all shouldn't you go where your coffee pound is appreciated?
Does Your Business Check Your Own Service Levels?
This coffee shop clearly doesn't care how its customers feel, because if it did it would do something about the service. Good brands audit service levels and check how people feel about their experience. It's obvious that this particular location relies heavily on the commuter traffic and lunch time ritual of eating locally to your office, because if people took note of its Google and Trip Advisor ranking I'm sure it would be empty!
Surely in an age when high street trading is tough and getting ever tougher, it's important for brands to remember that the customer is king. I was once told that "a smile costs you nothing, but lacking one can cost you dear" - so until I've the energy to tell them or they've worked it out for themselves, I for one will be meeting my clients at a friendlier, if less authentically stocked coffee shop.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Stephen Moore FCIM, a Strategic Marketing Consultant and part-time Marketing Director living in beautiful Suffolk. I support businesses large and small in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and London. I have been writing about marketing developments for 20 years with articles in The Metro, City AM, Fresh Business Thinking, AllWork, The Marketer and Marketing Week.