Creamer, please?

Sometimes I’m amazed and perplexed by the simplest customer service interactions.

We can become so engrossed in routine, that numbness sets in; resulting in systematic procedures where staff lack insight to provide the basics of customer service.  

Recently, I wrote a blog titled Deviating from the Process. From recent interactions, perhaps shifting the dialogue to training and development may prove more productive.

I love Starbucks. I love Starbucks coffee, chai tea lattes with soy, a peppermint mocha, an iced tea with a pump of sugar. They have so many delicious offerings, and they tailor to it my needs.  I can only imagine the training the baristas must endure to create our personalized caffeinated treats. To start my day, I prefer coffee.  My coffee orders are simplistic; the bold blend with room for cream.

On this particular day, the drive-thru line extended past the ordering lane and encircled the building.   The parking lot offering a plethora of spaces, I decided to venture inside for my bold blend.  The cashier greeted me enthusiastically and prepared my grande coffee leaving room for cream. I then approached the buffet offering cream, sugars, and mixing sticks. I lifted the creamer canister to pour into my coffee and drip, drip, drip.  Empty.  Instant despair.      

I took the canister to the counter to ask for creamer. The staff were focused, concentrated.  A busy drive-thru triggered frenzied team-members to fulfill orders; each with their own station and focus of operation. After a few fleeting moments of eye contact, my imploring looks registered with the cashier and she approached with a smile. Extending the empty creamer canister, I asked, “Would it be possible to have cream for my coffee? The canister is empty.”

There were four dairy jugs on the counter next to the drive-thru window. FOUR.  Two appeared to be milk, one half and half, the other skim or soy. The Barista took the half and half canister from me and vanished to the back-storage area. She was gone for two minutes.  Emerging from the back-storage area, she was flagged by a new guest and stopped to assist with the order; placing the creamer canister next to her at the register.

Now forgotten, I made eye contact with a different employee.  As he approached, I queried, “Could I possibly get some creamer for my coffee?”  This employee nodded yes, pivoted on his feet and vanished to the back-storage area. I stood there in disbelief.  He passed four jugs of dairy in his pursuit. Did they have special cows in the back?

A third employee made eye contact and recognizing my imploring look, approached. This now my third plea for creamer, I tried a different method of inquiry.

With a smile and eye brows raised, he asked, “how can I help?”

I looked at the barista. I glanced at the dairy gallons on the counter. I glanced at the barista and then back to the dairy gallons, at this moment feeling like a puppy looking for food. 

I am looking at your plate of bacon. I am looking at you.

I am looking at your plate of bacon.  I am looking at you.

While looking directly at the gallons of dairy on the counter I began, “could I possibly have some cream,” and I looked back at the barista “for my coffee,” and looked down at my cup. Lid off.  Cup extended. The barista instantly grabbed the gallon of creamer and poured it directly into my dark roast.

I heard angels sing as the creamer filled my cup.

The cashier continued to process the new order. The creamer canister remained at the register.

The second barista never returned from the back-storage area.

As I exited Starbucks, I pondered how two staff when approached with a need for cream, instantly pivoted and vanished to the back-storage area; passing four gallons of dairy on the way.  Two staff who had been trained efficiently on process.  This made me realize; to differentiate the client experience, training for awareness should be exercised in concert with training procedures.  

Do you have a process that inhibits the client experience?

Are your staff empowered to deviate from the process?

How do you communicate client engagement expectations to the team?

What are those expectations?

Are you celebrating exceptional client engagement?

To different your client experience, reach out to Slone Solutions, LLC.

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