With last month’s view touching upon the topic of appreciation, we wanted to continue our discussion. Customers are what make this industry spin. Without the three-cup-a-day coffee drinker, without the “mom and pop” shops, without the suppliers, and even without the local Starbucks, the coffee industry would not be what it is today.
All of these coffee shops and suppliers need one special thing to thrive as a business- customer loyalty. However, you cannot create a great customer loyalty base if the customer does not feel appreciated. So, my friends, this article is all about creating customer loyalty though customer appreciation.
After picking the brains of many coffee professions, three common themes surfaced to build customer loyalty- Respect, service, and be personal. There are also many rewards programs and companies working with organizations and shops to build customer loyalty.
Aretha Franklin says it best, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” And for everyone else as well for that matter!
Kevin Sinnott, creator of Coffeecon, makes respect the core of the event’s values. He says, “We treat event goers with respect, even if it’s just to accept them for drinking coffee the way they like it- cream and sugar or black.”
Everyone walking the face of this planet is different. That means that everyone enjoys his or her coffee different than the next person in line. Shop owners and baristas need to understand that. If you want that customer to come back again you must respect the fact that they are different from you and and you must accomodate their needs and desires. The customer is always right, remember? Don’t demean them for their taste buds – accept it and welcome them back for another cup.
Dave Stewart, owner of Vista Clara Coffee, talks about customer appreciation, “Customer appreciation is showing and letting the customer know that you care for them and appreciate what they do for you!”
If you are a supplier, you must also remember that your customer needs you just as much as you need them. Chances are, you are not the only supplier able to provide the product they are looking for. You want to make sure that your customers are not only provided with the correct products and services, but check up on them post transaction.
Make sure they were satisfied with your service. If not, ask them what was wrong and what you can do to make it better. Respect that they were not satisfied; do not argue with them about it. Make the improvements and make their next purchase superior than the last to create customer loyalty.
Joe Behm, President of Behmor Incorporated says, “If your customers have loyalty, they become the best form of advertising that no money can buy.”
“Consumers have choices, you have to set yourself apart, to give them a reason to go out of their way to see you. If you are a retail store, serving great coffee, that is not enough, they can find exceptional coffee, but what makes you different,” says Mark McKee, Owner of Passionate Harvest Coffee.
With that being said, customers are not going to go to a coffee shop where the barista is not friendly and welcoming. They will pass your shop and go to the next one right down the street that welcomes their business. You need to stress the fact that your customers mean something to you, and not just a paycheck.
Customers feel appreciated when they can walk into a coffee shop and be welcomed by the staff. If the staff is unhappy and/or rude, it rubs off onto those who walk through the door. Even a friendly smile and a simple “come back again,” can make the world of difference.
“In business, your customers are everything – without them you have no business, so everything you do in the business has to not only be functional, but also build loyalty,” says Adam Pesce, Director of Coffee and Tea at Reunion Island Coffee. “Some loyalty comes more naturally, but providing a great product, and proving your convictions through real action and not just talk, are crucial.”
MAKE THEIR TRIP PERSONAL
Kris Heinemann from Loring says, “In this partnership with our customers, we believe they are entitled to our full attention in addressing their questions, concerns, and any service needs. We build for them and we will continue to listen and respond in every way we can for as long as they are roasting on a Loring.”
Educate your customers. Educate them on the coffee they are drinking, educate them on the history of the building, educate them about where the coffee came from. A customer feels special when you take the time to tell them about what they are drinking.
I recently went out to dinner with someone who has celiac disease. That means they must consume an entirely gluten-free diet. The owner of the restaurant took the time and sat down with us to educate us about how he makes all of his dishes gluten-free, from the ingredients down to the preparation in the kitchen. After dinner, we both had said that we would go back in a heartbeat – and not just because the food was excellent, but also because we felt like we mattered to the owner. We weren’t just another check at table five to him.
When the staff can educate their customers in a way that is not snobbish, the customer feels special. Not to mention, they know where their coffee came from, they know what thought was put into the product, and they know the thought process behind the service. Make their experience memorable.
Take the time to learn their names, not just memorize their order. Ask them how their day is or how their child’s birthday party was. Know and understand that your customers are not just a written name upon a cup. They will continue to drink coffee, whether it is at your shop or the one across the street. You need to make them to want to come back. It is a good feeling, as a coffee drinker, when I can walk into a shop and they not only know my order, but they know my name.
McKee says, “The advice I would give is simple, you are embarking an exciting journey, to become part of people’s lives, it will be hard, difficult, you will need to invest your time and resources but without it, you will simply be one of the generic coffee companies, never a place that stands out.”
“Loyalty to a brand can’t be bought. It’s earned. Once you have loyal customers, it’s absolutely necessary to express your thanks in ways others don’t by, for example, including a follow-up note when they take time to say thanks for the support,” says Behm.
REWARD YOUR CUSTOMERS
POS systems, like Coffee Shop Manager are a vital element to get information about your customers. Coffee Shop Manager can give key information on whom and who are not your best customers are your café. You can reward your best customers and give the ones trailing behind incentives to come in and indulge into a great cup of coffee.
Also, Perka software can be used to create customer loyalty. It is simple to use and a great tool to utilize with your café.
Rob Bethge, Chief Marketing Officer at Perka Inc. says, “Perka creates loyalty by making it easy and fun for merchants to get to know their regular customers better. Our smartphone lets the customer accumulate points for their visits and purchases that they can redeem from a menu of perks. And the coffee shop can send offer to the customers that encourage profitable behavior.”
Perka benefits operators by giving them a enterprise class customer relationship management system disguised as a simple mobile punchcard.
Bethge says, “Cafes should have a marketing plan. And a meaningful part of a marketing plan has got to focus on customer experience, loyalty, and engagement. Mobile technology and smartphones in particular have become nearly ubiquitous, so now is really the time to consider taking advantage of these emerging mobile marketing tools.”
All of the individuals quoted above and the companies that they are representing, we feel as if they are shining examples of companies who exude exceptional customer appreciation and customer service. In return, these companies have a great customer loyalty base with awesome customers who keep coming back for more. If you would like more information, please visit their company websites.
Customers, whether you are a coffee shop, a supplier, or an organization, are the basic foundation to the fundamental functions of your company. Creating a good customer loyal base will keep your company growing and establish security within the economy.
It is important to stress that customer appreciation is critical at all levels of the industry- suppliers, organizations, and coffee shops. Without adequate customer appreciation at all levels the supply chain will become disrupted. Remember that your customers and organization members are vital to the survival to your company – treat them the way that they deserve to be treated.
Selling to Coffee People or Selling Coffee to People?
by Mike McKim, Cuvee Coffee
What is it that keeps a customer coming back? The most common answers are: quality of the product, the design of the cafe, and/or our location. Then, the other things start to come out, like how we steam our milk, or pull our shots, or the microlot on the menu.
I often find myself over complicating things. I mean let’s face it, the coffee industry has a lot of layers and so many people are involved in the journey from seed to cup. I used to think that if I could just teach my customers everything that I have learned over the years, that it would keep them coming back. Then I realized that the average coffee consumer doesn’t want or need all that detail. What they are looking for is an experience.
It is really that simple. I think in general people just want to feel special and I am not sure if telling them you do not offer sugar or an alternative to milk makes them feel special. Now I am not knocking that business model and I understand the philosophy behind it. And if you are selling to coffee people, it makes sense.
No matter how big we think our industry is, I am constantly reminded that it really is pretty small. And there are way more people who are not coffee professionals out there. So what about them? Sometimes I am left wondering if spending less time selling to coffee people and more time selling coffee to people is all it takes to build a loyal following.