Customer service, service with a smile – terms we’re all familiar with but what do they really mean when put into practice? Let’s think about a situation that is commonplace around the world these days, the ‘boutique’ coffee shop. Quite a phenomenon considering twenty years ago or so they didn’t exist and now they are everywhere on the high street, in shopping malls, at airports, in supermarkets. You name a location where people visit in numbers and there will be the opportunity to buy coffee from a well known international brand right through to a small independent.
At the end of the day wherever you buy coffee there are certain things that have to be in place. A counter to order and collect drinks, chairs and tables of some description and… well, that’s more or less it. Most places have washrooms, some better than others it has to be said, but it comes down to how the basics of ‘counter’ + ‘furniture’ are put together. Given that there isn’t much you can really do with this ‘equation’ what is it that makes us choose one outlet ahead of another?
A few weeks ago I was waiting to go into a business seminar and knew that the coffee etc. in the hotel where it was being held wouldn’t be that good and I was a good hour or so early. Looking around I spotted a small coffee shop which wasn’t one of the usual suspects and decided to give it a go. No surprises when I got inside, the normal set up. What was different though was the pleasant, casual but friendly way in which I was served. Not over the top and false, it felt real. And, yes, it came with a smile.
Even when it came to paying and being asked if I had one of their loyalty cards I was happy to say ‘no’ and take one. No having to sign up on-line and provide lots of personal information, just a card which gets stamped each time you buy a drink – 9 stamps and you get a free drink. Has it made me go there more often? Well, I did go back after the seminar to write up my own thoughts (I now have two stamps on my card) but I haven’t been back since. Next time I go into Bristol though I’ll certainly drop in if I’m in that part of town.
So, what was the cost to get my potential repeat business? The smile and the way I was welcomed – not much really, but it certainly made a difference. Smile as a USP? Definitely.