The Coffee Shop Experiment. A Lesson for Business Owners.

February 5, 2016 in Marketing

So what good business lesson can we learn from your typical coffee shop and how does this translate to your business?

Well, over the Christmas break, I spent 10 days holidaying on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.  Being a lover of coffee, especially after an early morning swim at the beach, I couldn’t help but ask a few locals where the best coffee shop was. Without hesitation, they all indicated the same place which was one of a handful of coffee shops in the area. So the next morning I was excited to pay them a visit and much to my surprise, the experience was not great.  This had nothing to do with the coffee, the coffee was actually good. It was the service that was terrible and so I decided to undertake what I termed “The coffee shop experiment”.

Over the next 10 days, I visited six coffee shops looking for the best one and scoring them on the basis of service and coffee flavour.  I even got quite scientific in that I created a coffee shop experience rating system. I rated the ordering experience out of 2.5, the table service delivery out of 2.5, and the actual coffee itself out of 5. This gave me a score out of 10. I had previously learnt that unless a client or customer rates you at least an 8 out of 10, then they are unlikely to refer other people to your business.  With a 6 or 7, they may actually return without providing a recommendation. Any less and you have lost their business. So, the experiment continued with some interesting results.


The Result

Quill Group - Accounting - Financial Planning - Superannuation - Bookkeeping - Gold Coast - Brisbane - Blog _ Coffee Shop Experiment

As you can see my first coffee shop experience was a 5.5 and the other 5 coffee shops I rated between a 6 and an 8 out of 10. This was very intriguing. So, as a result of my little experiment, I decided to give the first coffee shop another go to see if this was a one-off bad experience or had my referral sources got it wrong.  Much to my surprise, the service was exceptional and the coffee was fantastic. A score of 9 out of 10. Not only did I go back for a second experience but I took my family and friends and referred others to the same place.

So what good business lesson can we learn from your typical coffee shop and how does this translate to your business?

This exercise demonstrated to me just how important team work is. In almost every case there was a team of three involved in the delivery of that service.  For the overall experience to be good, it is required for each person to do their job well, no matter how good the end product is. In this particular case the behaviour of one individual had tainted my overall experience. That even extended to how I rated the flavour of the coffee. In most professional service industries like ours, the front line is most often the receptionist, a critically important person as the face of the business.  Most often there is an administration person, client services or other client contact individual besides the accountant, financial planner, doctor or lawyer who provides the actual service.  The lesson for me and hopefully all business owners is to make sure that an external party could come into your business, on any given day, and rate each of the people/services a rating of at least 8/10 and preferably higher. If you want a successful business, you will need to provide exceptional customer service as a team.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Maybe next time I might try some of my other holiday favourites, ice cream or better still beer!! One thing is for sure, good team work, a little attention to detail and good customer service will always rate well.

Why not try your own experiment some time or get someone external to rate your business.

  • About The Author: Peter Kirk

    Peter Kirk is a Relationship Manager and Executive Director at Quill Group. Peter has an MBA, and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® with a speciality in SMSF and retirement planning advice. 

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