It’s no secret that I absolutely love coffee.  My family and friends know it, and you (my blog readers) may have come to realize that, too.  I not only love coffee, but when I visit cities, regardless of whether it is in this country or another, I go to every coffee house I can (whether it’s local or a chain) to enjoy (and sometimes critique) the experience.

Recently I went into a coffee place that does things differently.  I applaud them for changing things up and going outside the box, but even if you have a high-end establishment, I don’t think you should treat people like YOU are the official judge of your products and services.  You also shouldn’t have a team that has their noses up in the air, as if only experienced utilizers of your services should step through your doors.

Since they prepare every cup individually with a pour-over method, I asked if they could brew a strong cup of decaf (using extra grams of coffee grounds.) The barista nodded his head “yes”, smiled and promptly turned the screen to me so that I could approve the purchase and add a tip.  I was extra generous in my tip and awaited my coffee.

He told me to pick up my coffee at the end of the counter.  After my coffee was prepared, I took a sip and discovered that it was extremely weak.  The person brewing it just looked at me.  I asked him if he added extra grams and he told me that he had not.  He said he wasn’t asked to do that.

Then he whispered to another barista.  She came over to me and said, “we don’t do that.”  I told them I requested it, but she informed me that they brew their coffee the “proper” way.  They will not change the strength of their coffee.  Both baristas just gave me one of those blank snooty looks and didn’t say another thing.  Suddenly I didn’t feel very welcome at that coffee establishment.
Here are some ideas to learn from this experience and use at your organization:


  1. Do each of your team members always have a smile and make people like part of the family, as opposed to a snooty look (giving the impression that they are wiser than those they serve)?
  2. If a customer has a request your employee cannot fulfill, do they let the customer know before they ring up the transaction?
  3. Does all of your training reinforce that you want the customer to always feel welcome at your organization?
  4. If what you’ve prepared and provided to a person is not what they wanted, do you make it right in some way so that you don’t jeopardize future purchases and possible referrals?

    All of this just takes common sense.  The very finest organizations don’t typically start out to create an air of snootiness.

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by Daniel P. Chiodo
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