The coffee shop experience
Posted on: 23 Mar 2016
Amidst the humdrum that is my morning commute, I frequent a small coffee shop in central Auckland. It’s no more than 5m x 10m with a leaner bar and a few stools, tucked inside one of the city’s older buildings. Behind the counter, driving the La Marzocco, Max pulled great shots of steaming hot espresso from his eight thirty beans. He had an engaging smile, a conversational style and a fan base among the local business folk who frequented his establishment.
Max got to know our names, our shot preferences – he recalled with ease the soy lattes, the trim flat whites, the macchiato and the long black. He would pre-empt an order if he spotted you coming along the street and have your favourite tipple waiting for you as you entered. You could forget your wallet and pay later. The trust was high and the coffee was good. The cafe’s no frills approach was refreshing – it was a coffee shop first and foremost. No pretence of syrupy, creamy, sugary fluffy stuff. No tea. Just coffee. Max, the barista, crafted coffee. Just coffee. Really good coffee. But coffee delivered with personality and conversation.
And therein lies the rub. Max left 2 weeks ago. His replacement is a different type of character. He barely grunts a hello. He never raises a smile and rarely lifts his eyes from the till when taking your cold, hard coin. Any attempt to converse is painful. A few from the office have already commented on how the coffee is great but something’s missing. Max is missing. It’s early days but I can’t help wondering if Max #2 will lose customers simply because the experience has left the building.
Max #2 is technically just as capable of making great coffee as original Max. But the people skills are not there. Across town his manager works, confident that he hired a great barista; that coffee was going to continue to be served with the same degree of skill and taste. And it does. It’s just it seems no-one thought to check out Max #2’s people skills. How he interacts with customers; how comfortable he is making the small talk that is busy professionals seeking solace in a cup of the black stuff. He deserves better than that. No-one should be in a people facing role and not be a people person. No-one should be delivering experiences that could potentially lose customers.« Return to home blog posts