Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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81 "My big thing is 'make it worth the wait,'" she says. "Take your time and make sure that every drink is the best it can be, but don't overthink it— believe in your gut, and smile." She takes the work of pleasing people very seriously, but she's also careful to absorb it as her responsibility as owner, and to lead by example—just as she does by build- ing relationships across the counter as well. "My job is to take care of the customers and learn from them if they have something to share or turn me on to." She stays open to learning and to fi nding that connection back to coffee through both the people she leads on staff and the people who form the lines leading to her door, and she knows she's not going to fi nd that connection through sharing the minutiae that is her job—not the customers'— to comprehend and contextualize. Hadassah offers some words of wisdom to that end as well. "The future of coffee does not merely rest with the innovators who travel the world and the coffee professional masses," she says, "but also with the people who have found a home in drinking coffee on their barstool. I truly believe that inno- vation in the service realm of coffee requires that we listen to our customers and choose to see them as people who want respect, kindness, and human interaction. Take the time to see your customers rather than talk at them." T H R E E S I M P L E WAY S T O L E T Y O U R C U S T O M E R S E D U C AT E Y O U #1—Just ask them! You don't have to craft formal surveys or conduct customer-on-the-street interviews in order to capture data about what your customers think and feel about your business. Engaging them could be as simple as making a poll out of the tip jars by placing two on the counter and labeling them with something like "Nutty Coffees?" and "Fruity Coffees?" and letting them "vote" with their change. For a less fi nancially awkward option, you can pre-print slips of paper and put a jar on the counter asking a leading question of your cus- tomers, so they can simply drop a vote in as they settle up or wait for their drink. #2—Read online reviews (but proceed with caution) It's not usually good for your mood or your blood pressure to "read the comments" on any online article, and for a lot of business owners or managers, review websites can be agita-making and upsetting rabbit holes. However, it is true that there can be constructive stuff in there, at least occasionally. A generally safe piece of advice is to read comments that stay in the top one-third of the positive ratings, and see what little details customers mention that prevented a perfect score. These are notes written by people who generally like your business and want you to succeed, and they may have something constructive (rather than irritating) to offer. #3—Host a "coffeehouse chat" Set aside one evening or quiet time during business hours (not during a rush) to offer cus- tomers a chance to gather, mingle, have snacks and some free coffee or tea, and simply talk about what works for them and doesn't work for them in your shop or business. Just as with the reviews advice above, the people most likely to attend something like this are already folks who like what you do and want to support you, and engaging with them on a casual and personal level while creating a meaningful conversation really shows your clientele that you care. ÑErin Meister

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