Customer Service Question...

AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
382
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Atlantic City, NJ
I was recently in a coffee house observing and I witnessed the following:

A woman ordered two iced beverages. The barista prepared it; money exchange uneventful. The two women each take a sip of their respective drinks and the one asks, "Is this decaf?" The Barista says, "No, you didn't order decaf." The customer says, "I'm sorry, I can only have decaf." The Barista replies, "Well, I really don't know what to do... I could make you another drink for a dollar each." They reluctantly agreed, and the transaction as done. I have thought about the scenario over and over and what I might have done. IF I would have done something differently. I just am not sure. I see both side of the argument, but I haven't really been able to come to a conclusion. I would like to know your thoughts and what you would have done, if you would have offered an alternative solution? I am sure this will be an issue for me at some point, so I would like to have an idea of how others would handle this type of situation.
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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Boca Raton
personally I would have made the drinks over for free. You might lose a few cents on the customers mistake but you will gain a long term customer.
 
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AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
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Atlantic City, NJ
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That's what I always thought and in other food-service related businesses where I have worked, that's what they've done.

Some people are just scam artists, but its not like they drank the beverage and then wanted something free.
 

Comfy Place

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Jul 15, 2006
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Bloomer, Wisconsin
I completely agree with Topher. We have had this scenario happen at our shop, and its just good business to simply say "Let me make you the drink that you would like," or something similar. Just remake the drinks, and you'll have to satisfied customers. They will have learned that they need to let the barista know exactly what they want/need for the future anyway, so no need to go over that verbally.

Make them new drinks, apologize for the inconvenience, and send the smiling customers on their way! Cheers!
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
I must ask was the barista an employee or owner? Although we all agree that the drink should be remade to please the customer. We don't know if the owner of the establishment has a policy in place not letting the barista make that choice. And yes there are some out there that may try and scam a frebie out of you, although this does not sound like it in this case.
 
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AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
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Atlantic City, NJ
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This guy was not the owner, and I could understand if there was a policy in place like that, that might make more sense to me. It was a very awkward situation--tough to even watch. It was like an accident: you really don't want to look, but you can't help but gawk anyway.

If she had consumed half of the beverage and then spoke up, I would have perhaps questioned it, but it was right off the bat. Or, if she had purchased a bottled beverage...
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
I would remake the drink then tag the customer. If they turn out to be a repeat offender then I would take a different approach to the problem.
 

Davec

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Oct 18, 2006
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Old England (UK)
  • Drink cost 30 cents (i'm British so may have got that a little wrong)
    Long term customer profit $10, $20, $100, $1000, $?
    Customer tells 10 other people of bad experience....loss= $$$$
    Customer tells 1 other person of good experience....gain=$

In this case as there were 2 customers, there was the potential to double the loses/gains all for the same 30 cents. It's a no brainer and if they do it again, it's still a no brainer....do the drink again. The customer is pretty much always right....unless they are wrong so often that the above financial model no longer holds true!!! :-D

P.S. It's the marketing research that says when they have a good experience they might tell one or two people about it....but when they have a bad experience they usually tell at least 10 other people about it.
 
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AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
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Atlantic City, NJ
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If its someone habitual, then yeah, you have to draw the line somewhere as they aren't really a good customer to begin with.

Davec: We have always gone by those guidelines in food service. Because it really is true. When you have a great experience you don't really say anything, but when someone treats you like crap, you tell a lot of people. I know I do.
 

KharmaCoffee

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Jul 3, 2007
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Sneads Ferry, NC
I add my voice to the echoing chorus, "Make another drink!"

We minimize the risk of this happening at all by how we handle each customer as they order. We have one service counter where the customer stands, orders, waits while their drink is prepared and then pays and collects the drink. We don't crank orders through or shuffle people to the end of the counter, even when it is busy. When a customer orders, we repeat each drink back to them as we grab the cup and begin marking or preparing it. We repeat every customers order back, even our regulars whom we know what they will be ordering when we see them pull in the parking lot. "Hi Mr. Jones! Dry cappucino?" "There you go, Mr. Jones. One dry cappucino."

Of course, we still get the occasional mistake. I insist on great coffee, but I also insist on great service. I would rather have an employee take the responsibility for the mistake, make another drink & preserve both aspects of the business. We have a policy that when YOU are behind the counter, it's YOUR store. What would YOU do?

Sometimes, you just know that the customer made the mistake. I might say something in an almost overly solicitous tone to the effect of, "Oh! I am sorry. I must be mistaken! I did not hear you say Decaf. Let me make that right for you. " They usually jump in with some sort of an apology and a half-stab at saying it might have been their fault too. Then I say, "Oh, no..no. We want to make sure it is exactly as you ordered it." It is a good way to sort of establish that you are willing to correct it, but you are also aware of it. So, if it is a repeat offender, you will have an established dialogue and remember them better.

But heck, we all make mistakes. The fact is, I screw up orders all the time as most of our customers are chatting and gabbing with us as we go. But, I think most of us get in to the coffee business not just for the love of those little black beans, but for the social aspects. It is hard to be social with a stoney-faced dictator barista :)
 

lizzy

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Mar 6, 2006
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word of mouth is the best advertisement. and any other kind of advertisement is a whole lot more expensive than a "free" drink now an then. The happy customer is a valuable advertisement.


I have noticed a lot of the kids I hire hate to admit they are wrong. we work on that all the time. a good example of why it is good to put in a lot of time at the shop. yeah, the customer is right. I'm the only one that can tell them they are wrong.

Another thing I correct often is if they say "we are out of it". I want them to say "can I offer you .......instead?" or "we'll have fresh in just a minute". but I pull my hair out when I over hear the dreaded, flat tone "we're out of it".

one time our coffee maker was down, as I worked frantically to fix it, I heard and employee say "we're out of coffee". I had told the employees, just make an americano when someone orders a coffee, don't say we're out of COFFEE!! we are a coffee shop!!!!!
 

jdandtracy

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Sep 24, 2006
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Colorado
We had a lady come in and tell us that she had been in earlier in the day and had been shorted $5 when she got her change. We took her name and number and told her we would be happy to give her $5 if our drawer was over by $5 at the end of the day.

When we closed, our drawer was dead on, no extra $5. She called back the next morning irate that we wouldn't give her $5. We explained that we had no evidence to indicate that we had shorted her in her change. We have never seen her since, and she said she was disgusted with us. We will never know if she was trying to scam us, or if she really got shorted (if an employee took the money). If we were to have an employee issue, I think we would have had more than one complaint in three months.

At this point, we think she was pulling a scam, but that's a lot of trouble to go to for just $5.

Anybody ever hear of this happening?

JD
 

Davec

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Oct 18, 2006
314
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Old England (UK)
It is a lot of trouble to go for for $5

I also think you handled it well

If the lady was a regular, possibly you could have said, look the till doesn't show a discrepacny, but next time your in have a free coffee on us. This costs you very little and might keep regular customer....but I would only do it the once, on the basis that she had better damm well check her change properly in future.

If the customer was not a regular, I would have done exactly as you had done.
 
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