I was in a coffee shop chain the other morning where I was greeted with a smile. My order and name were taken and I then queued to be handed my cardboard clad coffee after my name was (incorrectly) yelled out.
How did the process make me feel?
- Not great, not bad, just OK.
How would it have made my grandmother feel?
Sadly she’s not here to ask but I do know that the informality of the whole process would have been wrong for her. She wouldn’t have liked having to give her name to the assistant and she would have been surprised to have had her name shouted out in public … and to be called by her first name by a stranger would have been shocking!
To be honest coffee or any beverage served in cardboard and not china or glass would have been unacceptable (as was milk bottles on the table but that’s another story!)
And the final humiliation would have been the idea of walking out with a cup in hand – eating anything in public was definitely inappropriate behaviour!
So what? I hear you ask.
Well my grandmother was with us until about 25 years ago – not that long ago and her expectations were very different to yours or mine.
And I’m sure that the process was created to speed things up and make it easier for the staff and to better serve their customers.
I’m OK with the yelling of my name (it’s rarely my actual name anyway) but I’m not sure I get that cared for feeling that was without doubt the intention when the idea was first mooted. I’ve not asked anyone younger than me – maybe they like it.
It just got me thinking about customer service and that most of us are catering to different groups of customers – be that generation, gender, likes or dislikes or any other grouping you can think of. It occurred to me that all too often we assume that because it is OK for us it’ll be OK for our customers too … and it might not be.
So maybe the first step to providing great customer service is to ask your customer’s how they want to be treated – you may be surprised by the response you get back.