Why is it so hard to get good service in a coffee shop in Reno at 7:30 am on a Friday morning? Last week I had an unacceptable service encounter at Starbucks. This morning I once again was near that same Starbucks, and instead of going for the convenient experience, I drove out of my way to a locally owned coffee shop as a matter of principle.
When I entered the store, the customer in front of me was just finishing his order. There were three employees in the store – one taking orders and making coffee and two visible from the front counter preparing baked goods and other food. The owner was not in the store at the time.
I ordered a muffin and a latte. The friendly service provider handed me my muffin and then finished making the specialty drink for the customer in front of me. As he was delivering that drink to the customer seated in the lobby, two more customers entered the store. These were regular customers and each was greeted by name. The service provider then proceeded to fill both of their orders BEFORE he made the latte I had ordered and paid for prior to them entering the store. I stood and watched as both food and drip coffee was ordered, paid for, and delivered to two regular customers. Only then was my latte prepared and presented.
As the service provider was serving the second regular customer, he called for help from the two folks preparing food. One of them replied loud enough that I could hear it that she was busy making food; however, she came over to help even though it was easy to see she was not happy about having to do so.
This was a clear service failure and more of a crappy system than crappy people issue. There was no one “managing” the service encounter that morning. The person in the back preparing food should have been trained to jump in and help with a smile without being asked. When you are busy, it takes two people to take orders, prepare food, and prepare specialty drinks. One person simply cannot provide impressive customer service when the store is even slightly busy. If they know they do a considerable volume in drip coffee for regulars early in the morning, then they could set up a separate system where those customers could serve themselves and maybe even leave payment. I got crappy service this morning because of failures in staffing, training, design, and management, not because the young man serving me had a bad attitude. He failed me because the system failed him.
Shame I got treated differently than regular customers this morning. They don’t know my name, but they also don’t know I told over 100 students this semester alone that I frequent this business and like it; they don’t know that I wrote them a favorable Yelp! review over a year ago; they don’t know that I’ve even mentioned them favorably by name on this website in another blog post.
And they won’t know me, because I will never show my face in that business again. I work hard for what little money I have, and I want to spend it with local business people. I have reasonable expectations for service (e.g. finish my order before you start the next one), and when those expectations are not met, I always complain as a matter of principle. I sent the owner an e-mail this morning to alert her of my bad experience, and while she was very kind and receptive, her people did not tell her the whole story, so I came off looking unreasonable. Service recovery failure…. that’s enough for me to know I need to spend my money somewhere else.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.