Whatever happened to warm greetings, please, thank you and you're welcome? (Otherwise known as basic manners!)

Truth be told, I spend a lot of money on my caffeine consumption! Whether I am making my daily commute to the office or relaxing on the weekend, my preference is to always stop at one of the local coffee shops for my daily fix, as opposed to making a pot of java at home. You might say I am a coffee shop’s best customer; I show up every day, sometimes twice a day (on rare occasions, 3 times a day!) and have no problem paying $3-4 for each cup of my precious caffeine. I do expect, as any good customer would, to be serviced in a pleasant and efficient manner and shown appreciation for my patronage. What I don’t understand, though, is the fact that it’s often hard to get the basics of customer service these days (and that’s not just in coffee shops). More often than not, I get mediocre or horrible service with some sort of attitude. Whatever happened to warm greetings, please, thank you and you’re welcome? (Otherwise known as basic manners!)

In Boston, there’s a famous coffee and donut chain that has an outlet on every corner, in every town. I used to frequent one on my way to work each morning, ordering the same two simple items: black coffee and a donut. On several occasions, I’d arrive at my office only to find that I was given coffee with lots of cream and sugar or a muffin instead. So, on one particular visit, I made a point of repeating my order twice to the muffled voice behind the intercom in the drive-through lane, politely telling her that my order had been incorrect a few times. When I pulled up to the pick-up window, the woman handed me my goods, and with a sarcastic and rude tone said, “Well, I guess we just can’t seem to please you, can we?” I was speechless. Needless to say, I’ve never pulled into that drive-through again.

A quaint little coffee shop opened in my neighborhood two years ago; I like to support local businesses, so I made a point to visit almost every weekend. At first, the staff was friendly, greeted me with a smile and asked me for my first name in order to call me when my cappuccino was ready. Nowadays, a woman who has waited on me consistently for two years apathetically says, “Next in line. What can I get you?” She continues to ask my name, writes it on the cup and robotically passes it onto the next person, who then prepares my drink. No smile. No hello. No eye contact. No recognition. No kindness. So . . . I basically said, “No Thanks. I’ll take my business elsewhere.”

These days, I drive the extra distance to the Starbucks a few miles from our Ignite office. The minute I walk in the door, I hear the staff engaging with customers and joking with one another. When it’s my turn, I always receive a pleasant greeting and my drink is prepared promptly to order. I’m sent off with a thank you and a genuine, “Have a nice day.” It’s apparent that the team is having fun and takes pride in their work. On a recent visit, I inquired about one of the specialty teas displayed in their waiting area. The barista came from behind the counter, introduced himself, and described in detail, the unique flavor and quality of the tea. (How could I NOT at that point purchase some?) My colleague visited the next week, wanting to buy one of their new insulated coffee cups. The barista apologized and told her there were no more in stock, but offered to pick one up from another Starbuck’s on her way home and have it waiting for my colleague the next day. Now THAT’s service!

My belief has always been that you don’t have to work in a five-star restaurant or hotel to deliver five- star service. The basics of customer service are merely the respect, manners and Golden Rule we all learned (or should have learned) growing up. In my opinion, Starbucks “gets it” and then some. What do you think? Does your organization “get it” and how are you achieving consistency?

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Ignite Thursday, October 21, 2010 @ 12:57 PM   0 Comments

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