Operations: Designing the Customer and Staff Experience

From Tip 1 – We created your Brand Experience
From Tip 2 – We learned about your Customers
From Tip 3 – We explored your identity
From Tip 4 – We created your Space
From Tip 5 – We created your Physical Space
From Tip 6 – We created your Business Plan
From Tip 7 – We analyzed your Location and Customers
From Tip 8  – We prevented Nasty Permitting Surprises
Cafe SeriesNow that we have created your brand, your physical and virtual experience, and your permit process is well underway, let’s design the staff and customer experience!
In our Tip 7 article, you learned about your customers and locational demographics. With this information we have a good customer understanding. Sharing this information with your staff will be helpful in their training and understanding of your potential customers and brand.
Having a formalized and ongoing training and engagement program is important in retaining great employees. This includes a written manual for all operational processes, menu communication, human resource policies, and any items that your staff or management needs to refer to easily.
Pre-opening training should start at least 1 week prior to opening – preferably 2 weeks. This is after you have already interviewed and selected the key people.  Having clear and written company policies for being late, missing work, sick days, holidays and vacations will aid in clear communication.
The majority of your staff will be the millennial generation (those born between 1983-2000). This group appreciates being engaged more than previous generations. Getting to know their hobbies, family, friends and interests will gain their respect and loyalty. Having a happy and engaged staff is your goal so hire for attitude and you will have a winning recipe for customer service.
Now that your staff and manager are trained, let’s engage the customer with your new brand. Similar to your staff, getting to know your customers on a personal level is important in building customer and brand loyalty. You are in the customer service business; therefore always make your customers feel welcomed and valued.
Observe your staff’s conversations with customers and provide feedback as necessary. These customers will be more likely to sign-up for your programs because they want to be a part of your community. This may seem like common sense, but customer can differentiate you from the competition.
If you chose to use marketing analytics and programs, evaluate their ROI over an annual period.  Geo-fencing is being used in some areas to understand customer preferences in your geographic area – and then interface with your marketing campaigns. Mobile engagement of your brand with your customer is growing rapidly.  Get to know the options and have a responsive website. Make it easy – have people sign-up for your promotions by signing into their Facebook. Make sure staff are aware of your marketing campaign so they can support the communication of your campaign to customers. There are many sophisticated and costly methods of marketing and reaching your customers, but the one-on-one relationship building is often the best.
Think about rewards and incentives for customers to return on a consistent basis. Some ideas could include a holiday event where you give a percentage of your sales to a community organization that your staff or customers have selected. Listen to what your customer is saying about you. Look at your online reviews and respond quickly and effectively.
Having a strong training program is worth money in the bank. Having fun and engaging staff will keep customers coming back. The cost of turnover can be high, therefore creating a sound program that includes a firm understanding of your brand, the menu, the customer demographic and on the job training will go a long way in retaining great staff and customers!
Melanie Corey-Ferrini is the founder of Dynamikspace (www.dynamikspace.com). She has created the “10 Tips to Jumpstart your Café” workbooks and speaks at industry conferences on how to create a successful café.

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