My wife and I walked into one of our favorite coffee shops.  All the baristas seemed especially inspired this day.  At least four of them looked up and said “hello” with a big smile.  They were attending to business as usual, but with a special spring in their step.

This is all good, but I looked at my wife and said, “Corporate must be here today.”  That was a snarky comment I made, wasn’t it?  There was a reason I said it, though.  On most days, staff members at this coffee shop are internally focused.  By that I mean they are involved in conversations with their team members, not the public.  They talk to each other on their headsets not just about the orders they are filling— just general banter.

It’s fine to have a team that gets along well together, but not to the exclusion of the public.  The customers should feel extra special.  After all.  They are paying anywhere from about $3.00 to $ 7.50 for a cup of coffee.  Many of them make this purchase every day, so they should be treated especially well.

Back to my story.  As we were placing our order, three people (who aren’t normally there) came out from the office and sat down at a table to start talking about budgets, calendars and promotions.  Yes, Corporate was there that day. (I asked one of the baristas and they confirmed the visitors were from the corporate office.

This really bothered me, so I made a call to the corporation to tell them what I witnessed.  They told me that my concern was legitimate and they shouldn’t be acting any differently when the corporate folks were there.  I think that my message was passed along to the coffee shop. The next day they were just as inspired as the day “Corporate” was there.  Unfortunately, it was short lived.  The day after that they were back to being as internally focused as they were in the past.  

Here are some questions you should ask yourself so that you never fall into this trap. After all, customers can see right through employees acting differently and employees probably have suspicions about an employer who asks them to act differently on “corporate” days.


  • When hiring employees, ask interview questions to know the person is CUSTOMER-FOCUSED.
  • Frequently explain WHY your organization’s core values are a must.
  • Let your team members know that they are to live your company’s values EVERY DAY.
  • Tell them you will never ask them to act differently when ‘CORPORATE’ visits.



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by Daniel P. Chiodo
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