Monday, February 24, 2014

An In Depth Look at Customer Service

Most of us enjoy going to our favorite shop to get our drink of choice. We go for both the taste and the experience. When we have that pretty little cup in our hand we know all is right with the world. So what makes us come back time and time again for this little slice of heaven? Customer Service! It’s OUR coffee shop were we get OUR favorite drink and see OUR favorite barista. The song from Cheers put it best, "You wanna go where everybody knows your name" or, at the very least, your "usual". 

Not every coffee shop we go to has this feel. In fact there are some that we would never go back to. These coffee shops generally have a low emphasis on customer service and product quality. 

The top notch shops, like our favorite coffee house, encourage four things: quality product, inviting environment & atmosphere, a friendly workplace, and efficient service. These customer service principles are all necessary to cultivate an enjoyable, delicious experience your customers will love.

How do you utilize each of these principles to their potential?

1. Product Quality - this is different for every hut. But the key here is to buy local and fresh. Whether you're shopping for coffee, milk, or fluff products cupping a sample of each choice is the best way to decide if it should go on your hut's menu.
Also, something that is often overlooked is barista knowledge. If a barista knows about the product they're selling they can promote it. When your staff can't describe what the coffee tastes like or even what the brew of the day is, there's a lack of information. Helping your customers understand what you're selling can boost your sales and increase your customer's knowledge of their favorite cup of dark roast.

2. Inviting Environment-whether you work in a hut or cafe setting the look of your shop is a strong deterrent or attraction. Is your hut an eyesore? Does your cafe need a new paint job? Customers do make judgments, consciously or not, based on what they see. Keep in mind too that baristas are the first people to make contact with the customer and should represent the company as friendly and well kept.  

3. A Friendly Workplace-this speaks to the attitude of your shop. Are your staff kind to each other? Is there friendly banter throughout the day? Baristas should be aware that the way they speak to a co-worker has an impact on how a customer perceives the cafe itself. 

4. Efficient Service-this cannot be emphasized too much. This area is often poorly tended too and many cafe owners don't realize it is costing them greatly. Being efficient involves both friendly and quick service. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting ten minutes for your drink (even if the barista has a smile on their face). The best advice here is to be as quick as possible without detracting from the quality of the beverage. 

Creating the best possible experience for each customer is the goal. Even if it means adjusting our menu a bit or remaking that complicated drink exactly to their specifications, it's worth it. 

From the team at North Pole Coffee Roasting Company.

BGA Intro to Customer Service CP103

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Almonds Have Milk?

It used to be that there was one kind of milk everyone drank with their coffee. Cow's milk. Now there are multiple choices. There are variations of cows’ milk, dairy substitutes, and gluten free choices.
Which one is best? Which is cheapest? Should you offer a few dairy alternatives? The jury is still out on these questions, but we can offer some help in making a choice.

Whether it's dairy or non-dairy, milk is the primary ingredient in most cafe specialties. The alternatives to the traditional dairy option are plentiful. Soy, Almond, Hemp, Rice, Coconut, Hazelnut, & Cashew are among the most popular. Within each of these options there are different brands to choose from.

Soy milk is the most popular alternative. It's made from soy beans and water it is completely lactose free.  Due to its widespread popularity and its general dependability soy has worked its way into most cafes and huts around the globe. It is as close to dairy milk as you can get when it comes to steam-ability.

Almond milk is the next in the standings of most popular non-dairy alternatives. It has a slight nutty taste that you won't find it soy milk, however it is recommended that it should be steamed only to 140 degrees Fahrenheit due to its delicate flavor.

Some lesser known but still viable options are coconut milk (made from the pulp of coconuts and water), hemp milk (yes it is made from the nuts of the marijuana plant, and no it does not make you high), rice milk (made from rice or rice protein, water, and sweetener), hazelnut milk (made by blending hazelnuts or hazelnut butter, sugar, and water), and cashew milk (uses cashews or cashew butter blended with water).

So how do you go about choosing the alternative or alternatives that are right for your cafe? Here are a few things to take into account: how it does it steam (burning quickly or foaming easily); how does it taste- both hot and cold (there is a difference between cold and steamed milk); and what is the mouth feel (the texture)? Lastly, any budget conscious cafe will need to ask, what is the cost and does it come in bulk?

When it comes to managing the change or addition to your menu some helpful ways to transition include getting customers to weigh in on their favorites and what they like about it or using social media (Facebook, Blogs, Email, and Twitter) or advertising to let people know you'll be serving up some new delicious options.

If you're in the market for a dairy alternative, start experimenting, you don't know what you like till you try it!

Fresh Cup-April 2013 Issue (pg. 32)