We all love an interesting customer service story, so I’m going to share two contrasting experiences from similar businesses. The lessons are compelling. But first a big thank you. Last week, FRI was awarded “Supplier of the Year” at the Australian Excellence in Franchising Awards. These Healthy Franchise Relationship Tips are a small, but important, part of what we do to foster profitable partnerships and positive business practices throughout the global franchising sector. Now onto our story…
If you have attended one of our Advanced Field Manager Bootcamps, you’ll know we practice higher level observational skills by doing an undercover field visit to a local business. Participants in a recent program visited a nearby coffee shop, which is part of a well-known franchise brand. To say the business was underwhelming would be generous. As we approached the counter the young man at the till and the female barista next to him were both staring downwards, engrossed on their phones. She wasn’t in uniform, the shop was messy, the newspapers on the bench were three days old and generally, the atmosphere could at best be described as dull. The coffees were technically good but the customer experience was terrible. We were the only people in the shop, despite it opening onto a bustling street. Enough said.
The following morning I met with a senior franchisor executive called Michael (totally different franchise), to discuss how they were introducing some new initiatives into their franchise network. Michael is a large, friendly middle aged fellow with strong features. When he suggested we grab a coffee at a nearby cafe I advised him to keep walking as we approached the premises described above. A block away in a side street we spotted a cafe and headed in. As we entered a woman and a man behind the counter were talking together and laughing. They both immediately looked up at us and she wished us an energetic good morning as though she genuinely meant it. “And what can I make you fine gentlemen this morning?” asked the barista. Contrast how this made us feel compared to the non-greeting at the other store.
Meanwhile Michael had taken a phone call and was standing slightly away from the counter, so I chatted with the two staff about who was the boss of who, which resulted in more laughter. They boasted they made the best breakfast and coffee in town. “He thinks he’s Picasso” she joked. He explained he was perfecting his coffee art and proceeded to draw an impressive looking horse on a flat white he was preparing for a customer. “I bet you couldn’t draw my friend” I teased. “Maybe I could, maybe I couldn’t” he retorted. I ordered two flat whites and beckoned Michael to join me at a table by the window in a sunny spot overlooking the street.
A few minutes later the barista bounced over with an all knowing look and slid a coffee across to each of us. Michael was in the middle of explaining a complex situation and was concentrating deeply on what he was saying. The barista stood politely next to us with a smile. When Michael looked down at his coffee he stopped mid-sentence, dumbstruck. I burst out laughing. Take a look at the photos below and you’ll see why.
To be honest, the taste of the coffees in both cafes was probably the same. But the two experiences were totally different. The staff in the first cafe thought they were making and selling coffee. The staff in the second cafe understood they are in the happy business. If you are in the happy business you need to be happy. It’s not that complicated. At FRI we call this aligning your culture with your brand. It’s where your people naturally practice what your promotional literature promises.
What business are you in? And are your people living it? I’d suggest this is a topic worth talking about as a team.