Monday, September 25, 2017

10 Ways to be a Better Customer

Well here I am on the edge of the one year mark of the shop being opened. I wouldn't say that I've "loved every minute of it", but overall the things I have learned are irreplaceable. Aside from learning about humans in general and learning how to love people where they are, I have learned as a server, how to be a better customer. So here's just a simple list, in no particular order of:

10 Ways to be a Better Restaurant Customer: (even though some of these are coffee shop specific)

1. Ask questions
If your server expects you to know the menu, I'm sorry, you may have a rude server. It's not your job to know the menu, it's ours. But along that line of thought, if you aren't sure what something is, please ask. When you order something you don't know and then don't like it, it creates more problems for us, and a good server will be more than willing to explain something to you.

2. Be kind
Please, please, please remember that your server is a person. Being on your phone while trying to order, especially when they need to ask you questions, being overtly formal with us, or ignoring us can be hurtful. No we don't always want to stand and have a heart-to-heart, but we want to be treated as humans, not your servants.

3. Dirty Three:

I'm calling these the dirty three. Just. Don't. Do them.
  • Ignore Greetings - I pride myself on greeting people, either soon after they walk in or in the drive thru. I can't tell you how many people blow right past a friendly greeting and a "how are you today?" It is completely disregarded more than I would like.
  • Order Without Being Asked - When customers come in and just spout out their order (on the heels of ignoring my greeting) I confess, I am already irritated with you. I want to serve you, and serve you well, but if you give your order without being asked there is a good chance I won't get it right because I might be working on another order, or there is someone in front of you. NEVER ASSUME THE RIGHT OF WAY. This should, in my opinion, be very logical. But surprisingly enough, it's not. People can be very rude, not just to me, but to other customers. Just don't be.
  • Mispronounce a product, even after the correct pronunciation has been offered - ok this is a pet peeve, I get that. But particularly in the coffee industry there is a lot of misunderstanding and mispronunciation. THAT'S OK, remember? But when I have corrected you on our sizing, pronunciation, or specific item, please don't keep ignoring me. I understand not being able to say something, that's not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about, is still demanding or requiring something I have already told you we don't or can't do. It can actually get pretty awkward.
4. Clean up after yourself
Ok so sure, one of the perks of going out for dinner is not having to do the dishes. I'm not asking you to. But if your kid made a royal mess, please tidy after them a little. Again, some of these are specific to coffee shops, so keep that in your hat. But if you open a straw, throw the trash away. If you use a sugar packet, throw the trash away. If you use a stirrer, and you're done with it, throw the trash away. I might not have a chance between customers to clean up after you, and it makes us look bad. If you enjoy our shop and want to spur us on, please just tidy after yourself.

5. Teach your children to respect other people's property
Along with cleaning up after yourself, please teach your kids to respect other people's property. Just because we are a public space doesn't mean we are no one's space. Kids that behave unruly and cause damage, cause problems on problems for us. It's more than just a broken chair, it's a chair that came from a store two hours away and not practical for us to get a replacement in a timely manner. You might not realize all of this when your child is just misbehaving, but its a lot of work and time and often money for us. Teach them to treat our facility well.

6. On that note, don't assume your kids behave when you aren't around
We have a great outdoor area that a lot of parents love to use, and honestly it makes us feel apart of your community when they do! We love it! However, parents will often send their children back inside for a sip of water or napkin, and their children will completely destroy the water station/mess with things they shouldn't. I happened to be aware one time as two little girls dumped 3-4 packets each of sugar into their water and proceeded to use coffee stirrers as straws to consume their sugary concoction. Once the mothers became aware of the situation they were horrified their kids behaved this way, but I see it all the time. Your kids aren't always on their best behavior when you aren't around. (I will just add that this isn't always the case and I've come across a lot of really great kids in this industry!)

7. Just because it's free to you, doesn't mean it's free for us
Along the line of kids using sugar packets without permission or cause, please remember, especially when visiting a small business, that just because we offer something complimentary to you, doesn't mean it cost us nothing. Take only what you need, not a lot of "extras" because those are profitless costs to us, and they add up, especially when they go quicker than they needed to.

8. Be aware of other customers
This sort of nods back to the Dirty Three. Be aware of those around you, you aren't our only customer. Wait for someone to ask your order before you just give it, and assume we're ready to take it. We love to talk, but when you're standing at the register and there's a line behind you waiting to pay or order, please go ahead and wrap up so we can serve everybody. Please always ask before you pick up a drink off the bar if it's yours. The guy in line in front of you may have ordered the same thing, but he ordered first, therefore, it's not yours. Again, we want to serve you and serve you well, but you're not our only customer.

9. Unless you're invited, don't mess with things on or in our work space
As a barista this is particularly frustrating. My work surface is open to customers with my machine wide out in the open and my coffee grinders well within the reach of customers. If you want to know what I'm doing, please ask! Poke your head around the corner! Ask if you can watch! But please, under no circumstances, do not touch unless you have been explicitly invited to. Which, has happened. But there's protocol, and health measures that must be taken and every Joe off the street isn't invited behind the counter or to touch my equipment.

10. TIP
Last but certainly not least, ALWAYS LEAVE A TIP. Some places don't accept tip, so if you aren't sure, ask. If tipping isn't in your budget, don't eat out until it is. Even if you had subpar service, please remember that your mood isn't always dazzling either, and sometimes it's hard to shake the personal stuff before working(or the personal stuff is happening behind the scenes at work). Be kind and sensitive, and always leave a tip. Even a dollar or two just makes us feel a little better about our work.

Basically, just try and be a good, caring person. These are things I have tried to implement (where applicable) as I do more eating out. It's not that hard to just be a little kinder, a little more aware, and a little more willing.


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