26 May 2017

My wife will testify that I have a pet hate, especially in the delivery of my coffee at your typical coffee shop. It is a thing in my house to the extent that she laughs at me every time it happens, which doesn’t make me feel better. It all surrounds the now ubiquitous use of the word “Enjoy” in coffee shops when your drink has been delivered. I hate it.

There are obvious reasons in my grumpy old man head that causes this disgruntlement. I am a generally nice bloke, who doesn’t get angry easily, but when an instruction is delivered with my coffee – “enjoy” – my hackles are well and truly raised. What if I don’t want to enjoy my coffee? What if I just want to neck it and use it as a caffeine intake vehicle. Stop telling me what to do! Who are you to judge whether I should enjoy your product?  I have bought it and I’ll consume it in whichever way I see fit. Deep breaths Phil, deep breaths.

The purchasing of coffee, especially in London, is an entirely indistinguishable affair. I couldn’t tell you if I was in a Pret, Costa, Nero or Starbucks, the branding etc. is oblivious to me and the product is entirely the same to my clearly uneducated taste buds. Many of my colleagues will travel for miles for a particular blend, I just want the caffeine hit.

If I could differentiate on Service, that would make me go to a specific shop. But our culture today has become so bland that every coffee shop, regardless of brand, tells me to “enjoy”. Surely with the multi-million-pound industry that coffee shops represent, they could invest in some interesting customer services experience for their consumers that makes their brand stand out. Especially with all that tax they aren’t paying. Controversial…

I’m sure the individual waiters and waitresses aren’t at fault here. They are usually enormously upbeat people, happy in their job, and probably genuinely want me to enjoy my coffee. I fail to believe however, that they are all so similar in nature that they use the exact same instruction when delivering coffee, regardless of which shop you are in, without some re-use of a customer service manual that says, “when you put the coffee in the customer’s hand, tell them to Enjoy”. I accept it is a short and easy instruction, and these guys are under time pressure, but surely a bit of variation would help.

Customer Service is an artform, and all depends in my view on personal engagement with your customer. Tailored experiences that represent your brand I think are a key part of quality service delivery, making every touch point a unique experience representing your brand. You see this brilliantly executed in Waitrose / John Lewis, where I’ve never been told to “enjoy” my shopping. Generally, the customer services staff spend a bit of time engaging with me in small talk, with a smile on their face, and they don’t instruct me to do anything. Its lovely.

So, in the ever consolidating, bland world of IT and Telecoms how can you differentiate your service? There is nothing “enjoyable” about dealing with IT and Telecoms, however, the trivial things make a significant difference in my view. Every interaction from billing, portals, account management, marketing etc. needs to portray your brand consistently in a pleasantly consumable form, not as an instruction. We are, as a race, a sensitive and busy bunch of guys. Surely, we have the time and intelligence to create a subtle approach, and coerce / persuade people that working with us is the right thing to do without slapping them around the face.

Anyway, this blog isn’t a rant about IT Services – its directed specifically at coffee shops. Please tell your staff to stop bullying me into enjoying my coffee. Ask them to smile, see how my day is going, suggest I try a different blend this morning, draw something funny in the foam on the top etc. Make it memorable and pleasant, not bland and offensive.


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