Coffee With Benefits

Last year a coffee corner was introduced at our office. It has real coffee, a range of coffees and a real barista.  It got the seal of approval from our Italian team mate and quickly became popular with the whole building.

During the period B.C.E.(Before Coffee Era) there was an eternal shortage of meeting rooms, as most of our office space is open plan. Using the restaurant was a last resort, partly because it was a big empty unfriendly space and partly because there was no coffee.

So now we’re in the C.E (Coffee Era), between 8am and about 3.30 we can buy real coffee. It’s still popular six months after the introduction and there have been a couple of unintended consequences.

(1) we will now choose to have meetings in the restaurant, and because there’s plenty of space to spread out it still feels like you can discuss things openly at your table. Suddenly there’s no shortage of meeting rooms.

(2) I see lots of colleagues from other teams/departments who I never used to see, and have been able to catch up with them on work things more easily. We’ll chat, we’ll schedule “coffee dates”.

I’ve been in meetings with some very bright people discussing how to break down organisational silos to increase knowledge sharing and collaboration; turns out all we needed to do was serve up some quality coffee.

image Caffè Lattè /rport/ CC BY-NC 2.0

Customer Experience

We’ve evolved from speaking about “customer satisfaction” to “customer experience” to “customer delight”.

It’s not an “or” question, you can’t delight your customers if you haven’t already satisfied their needs, but according to a Harvard blog one US bank has been trying to substitute coffee and comfortable chairs for efficient transaction service.

The blog points out that the people with the most banking expertise are now greeting visitors, I’m sure that was well justified in the consultant report. I imagine the logic went something like “you’re in this banking crisis, people don’t trust you, they way to turn that around is come out from behind your desks and talk to the customers”. It’s not necessarily bad advice in the conceptual sense – banks and financial institutions are seen as untrustworthy, and research indicates people don’t ask for advice in part because of a perceived distance issue.

The problem is in the execution. Most customers can do everything online, so if they’ve made the time to come into the bank it’s because they have a more complex transaction, or an problem that can’t be solved online. In short they’ve come into the bank for the bank’s expertise.

Customer satisfaction would be around accurate and efficient delivery of the expected service.

A positive customer experience would be around short waiting times, professionally friendly staff, comfortable surroundings. At this point you can earn trust, you’re doing the right things in the right way.

If all of that is in order you can then, and only then, delight me with a cup of really excellent coffee.

But you can’t skip the satisfaction and the experience and expect a customer to be happy because you’ve made my long wait for service more pleasant.

I can get coffee at a cafe – that’s not what I’m coming to a bank for.

Image coffee via pixabay