How One Coffee Shop Lost My Customer Loyalty

12 Feb


I decided to give it one more chance. The coffee shop is less than a block from my apartment and the coffee is pretty damn good. I want to frequent the place and support a local business; however, every morning I’m greeted by an employee who acts like I just ordered a hit on a puppy instead of ordering a large coffee. 

I tried to mix up my routine; maybe I had a scowl on my face and didn’t realize it. One morning I walked in with the biggest smile and greeted him. All I got was a scowl. I tried to tip the guy $1.50 after he gave me my $2.50 coffee. All I got was silence. I’m done.

As I looked around the place, I noticed it wasn’t as busy as other coffee shops. Maybe I’m not alone in wanting at least a half-hearted greeting at a place I buy from almost every day. Now, I take my $17.50/week ($2.50 X 7), my $70.00/month ($17.50 X 4 weeks), and my $840.00/year ($70.00/month X 12) to the coffee shop that takes me an additional 20 minutes to walk to.  *Maybe I don’t spend that much, but you get the idea.*

At my new coffee shop I’m greeted by employees who are happy to see me. The owner thanks me for my business and asks if there’s anything else she can do to make my stay more comfortable. You see, as a small business owner she realizes that it’s ultimately up to her to make sure her staff is not only trained properly but also is executing the training to make sure customers are enjoying the experience.

If you own a business, or you’re thinking about starting a business, it would be wise to “mystery shop” your business. Ask 5-10 friends/customers to place an order and have them rate the experience. Because at the end of the day: it’s not your employees fault if their attitudes cause you to lose customers, it’s your fault for not having a system to identify the problem employees.

Good Luck!

4 Responses to “How One Coffee Shop Lost My Customer Loyalty”

  1. Edmund Amoye February 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    If it is that hard for a small shop to give good service, think of how hard it would be to get giant firms to adopt a service mentality that retains good consumers. Most companies rely on having the latest trends, when a customer service can get them a lot farther.

    • Kurt February 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Edmund.I agree 100%. Fact is: small businesses need to realize that they have a competitive advantage over the large firms. They can actually get to know customers on a personal level and offer truly unique experiences. Every small business should find a way to identify its most loyal customers and recognize/reward them. If nothing else, at a minimum, they should script and monitor the entire customer experience.

  2. Mohan Chitrapu February 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Monitoring an improving Customer Experience doesn’t need too many software tools and applications. Especially for a small business, a notebook or an excel spreadsheet can do the trick. What is important here is for the owner to realize what are the areas of improvement and how she can work on it.

    • Kurt February 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      Mohan, Absolutely! A starting point for small business owners could be to simply observe every interaction and ask frequent customers about their experience. The small business owner could then research a simple software solution to track customer purchases, etc. However, there should definitely be a “system” to greet customers, ensure the website is updated, and to monitor any other touch-points between the business and the customer. I appreciate the comment.

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