Written by: The Grounds Roastery Training Manager, Andrew Hunt
This article was first published in Cafe Culture Magazine.

The concept of having amazing customer service in your venue probably isn’t groundbreaking, but the extent to which you go to is what will set your cafe apart from the rest. One of our core Roastery values is to always consider our customers wants and needs above our own. This is carried through all the way from our green bean selection and roasting, to our baristas working in the venues.

Your baristas are so much more than the hands that make coffee and fulfill orders, they’re a gateway into knowledge and insights from your customers. Here are 3 of the tips we share with our Roastery wholesale partners to help train and empower their baristas to take their customer service to the next level.

1. THE CUSTOMER COMES FIRST

While you’ve no doubt placed someone welcoming and friendly at the point of sale to interact with your customer and make a great first impression, it’s important that the customer connection travels down the line to your baristas too.

A person’s morning coffee journey is a personal one and in order for their experience to be unique they need to feel special and comfortable in your space & company. Just in the same way that many liken their bartender to a therapist, the same can be said of their barista! Any barista who has their head down and isn’t acknowledging the customer in front of them is losing the opportunity to solidify a relationship and increase repeat business.

As your baristas build relationships with their customers, it will help them to learn and better understand what it is their customers specifically want. Not only will they give that little bit extra on a social engagement level but also with the offering they can deliver too. Your baristas are a great tool to learn more about your customers’ needs, and you know what they say – knowledge is power.

On the flipside, it is equally important to understand when a customer just wants their coffee without the chit chat and intrusion!

2. IT’S OK TO BREAK THE RULES

Train your baristas to go into every customer interaction with a positive, can-do attitude. While complicated requests can feel tedious and time consuming, chances are that your customers have ordered their morning coffee just the way they like it, and this is the hospitality industry after all.

A customers idea of their perfect coffee doesn’t always fit with our understanding of the coffee menu. For example, in the past I have had many a customer ask for an extra extra EXTRA hot coffee. Often these customers are never satisfied with my hottest of hot lattes – what to do? Think outside the box! Instead of making a conventional latte I ask my customer to try something a little different then make a half long black topped up with piping hot milk. This has changed many a hot latte customer’s life by finally delivering the beverage they are after. Be sure to ask the customer what they think of your interpretation of their coffee preference and adjust if need be.

Empower your team to manage special requests and determine the limit. While it’s so important to be accomodating, it’s also crucial that you’re mindful of other customers and conscious of wait times. At the end of the day, if it’s going to take an extra 30 seconds to make someone’s day, it’s worth it.

3. BE RELATABLE

If you’re in the business of specialty coffee, your baristas and floor staff need to be able to present coffees to your customers and have them understand why it’s so special. To most, coffee is just coffee, which makes for an opportunity to add more value to their experience. It’s crucial that your team can break down your offering and communicate it well to your guests to help them learn & understand.

For most, their first coffee of the day is going to be their comfort coffee. If your baristas notice a customer coming back in the afternoon for their second or third, this is their opportunity to strike up a conversation and offer them something a little different to their usual coffee such as an espresso or a filter coffee. If they don’t like it simply replace it with their usual. Most customers will appreciate the gesture and the experience.

A good starting point is to speak to three key points for each coffee; where it’s from, the varietal and the process. Further to that, highlighting three flavour attributes your customer might recognise in that particular coffee will help them identify what they’re experiencing and tasting. Don’t lose them in the process though; throwing out too much information can feel overwhelming and alienating.

To find out more about becoming a wholesale partner, click here.