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How NOT to do customer service, handy hints for cafe owners

By acaciaelata - 25 June 2009 55

Canberra-ites – are YOU interested in opening a cafe? Try this quick quiz to see whether or not your customer service skills meet the high quality we’ve come to expect in our fine capital.

Here is a hypothetical scenario. Read it carefully and then answer the questions below.

    Imagine that it is a typical cloudy, cold winter’s day in Canberra. But there is a break in the clouds and the sun is shining. A customer comes into your southside café in an organicy kind of shopping village, orders a coffee and advises you that he will sit outside on the sunny balcony that you mention on your blackboard. Much time later, say, half an hour, a shopkeeper from a neighbouring organic greengrocers comes in and advises you that he has had a phone call from the customer who is locked outside on the balcony and can’t call you, because your phone number is incorrectly listed with directory assistance, and could you please let them in.

Q1. When the customer came to the counter to order their coffee should you have:

    A. Taken their money and forgotten about them.

    B. Prepared a lovely cup of fair trade, organic coffee and served it to them promptly.

Q2. When the customer advised you that your door is locked from the outside should you have:

    A. Said: ‘Oh, well we didn’t expect anyone to go outside today‘.

    B. Apologised profusely and assure the customer that you will ensure that from now on the door unlocks from the outside.

Q3. If you answered A, and the customer then says ‘I told you I was going outside, and anyway, whether you EXPECT people to go outside or not, if you have a sign saying there is a sunny balcony, and it’s sunny, you can be sure someone will go outside so how’s about you make sure people can get back in once they’ve gone out‘ do you:

    A: Say ‘Well, did you leave the door OPEN when you went out?‘.

    B: Apologise profusely and assure the customer that you will ensure that from now on the door unlocks from the outside.

Q4. If you answered A, and the customer then says ‘The door was closed, so I closed it behind me when I went out‘ do you:

    A: Say: ‘Well it falls closed sometimes?

    B: Apologise profusely and assure the customer that you will ensure that from now on the door unlocks from the outside, or failing that, ensure the door doesn’t fall closed.

Q5. When the customer advises you that he had to call a neighbouring shop because your phone number is incorrectly listed with Directory Assistance do you:

    A: Say ‘Yeah, they misprinted it‘.

    B: Apologise profusely and undertake to phone Directory Assistance and ask them to change their electronic listing NOW.

Q6. When the customer becomes frustrated by your unwillingness to address any of the deficiencies they have just notified you of and asks for their $3.30 back and says they won’t return to your café do you:

    A: Grumble to the other customers and staff that some people are never satisfied.

    B: Apologise profusely and give the customer a free cup of coffee and a voucher for a free lunch next time.

If you answered A to any of the above: You have failed the test and will need to re-sit your Customer Service 101 class.

If you answered B to all of the above: Congratulations, your business is bound to be a success.

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55 Responses to
How NOT to do customer service, handy hints for cafe owners
Hells_Bells74 9:57 am 25 Jun 09

FC said :

If you think about it it you should be able to figure out wich cafe it is.
Clues:
*Southside.
*Cafe which has an outside area which is not visible from the main counter.
*Neighbouring organic green grocer.
I have also experienced poor customer service at said cafe, and will not be returning.

Southside – yeh it’s a huge area.
Cafe with hidden outside area – couldn’t see it to know it then.
Organic – I don’t bother noticing.

So I have no idea still where/what this place is.

el 9:52 am 25 Jun 09
Clown Killer 9:51 am 25 Jun 09

Acaciaelata if I were you I’d be slipping on my asbestos suit right about now. Not because the issues that you have raised cut to the very core of the phenomenally poor customer service experienced almost uniformly across all aspects of the hospitality business in this town, but because of the wrath of the very miscreants that you so shamelessly expose.

Stand by for a cavalcade of whingy, bitchy indignation from baristas, waiters and waitresses, cooks, chefs (which in this town generally means cooks with an ego disproportionate to their ability) and a coterie of their camp followers.

Your desire for an establishment to simply produce a product commensurate with its cost and their claims of quality and provenance in the setting that they have provided clearly marks you as one of the hoard of selfish, mollycoddled, leafy-suburbs dwelling stuck-up prats with an overblown sense of entitlement who doesn’t know sh!t about coffee or cafe’s or how hard it is to work in hospitality (oh the hours are so long and the pay it really sucks and tight ar$e customers don’t tip just because you manage to be civil to them), and besides you couldn’t hack an afternoon working in one of these places let alone a career so don’t even bother having an opinion if you haven’t walked a mile …

FC 9:45 am 25 Jun 09

If you think about it it you should be able to figure out wich cafe it is.
Clues:
*Southside.
*Cafe which has an outside area which is not visible from the main counter.
*Neighbouring organic green grocer.
I have also experienced poor customer service at said cafe, and will not be returning.

sepi 9:43 am 25 Jun 09

I had an ordinary meal at Axis and very ordinary service – they bumped my chair every single time they moved past to the table behind – which was continual. And the place was mostly empty, so whey seat everyone in one tight corner? I’ve heard good things tho, so maybe it was an off night.

– And on this cafe – there can’t be too many cafes in Griffith with balconies.

johnboy 9:41 am 25 Jun 09

CanbInt said :

Been told that the best service in town is at Ottoman’s (restaurant), but Axis (NMA) also not bad. Any ideas where the ‘best’ service in a cafe is (i.e. polite, efficient, happy, willing to acecpt a mistake and remedy the issue)??

CanbInt, please don’t go kicking off a “best” thread from a comment. Stick to the topic under discussion.

CanbInt 9:37 am 25 Jun 09

Been told that the best service in town is at Ottoman’s (restaurant), but Axis (NMA) also not bad. Any ideas where the ‘best’ service in a cafe is (i.e. polite, efficient, happy, willing to acecpt a mistake and remedy the issue)??

el 9:31 am 25 Jun 09

If you answered A to any of the above:

You’re probably already running a cafe in Canberra.

ant 9:29 am 25 Jun 09

Come on, it’s a good story but we all want to know who the cafe was!

Service in Canberra is generally quite poor, which is why we get all excited when we encounter good service. And if you happen to have a problem or try to “talk to the manager”, prepare for a thoroughly unpleasant, pointless experience.

which is why it’s important to mention exceptionally poor service here on RA. But also to mention exceptionally good service.

lobster 9:14 am 25 Jun 09

They can’t make it so that locked doors can be opened from outside – because then anyone could get into their store from the balcony.

P Taker 9:14 am 25 Jun 09

Love the way you wrote that! I went to a southside cafe awhile ago for breakfast. They screwed up the breakfast but were apologetic for the entire thing and didnt charge us a cent even though we were willing to pay for the coffee (which was amazing). I have since gone back.

Name and shame!

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 9:01 am 25 Jun 09

Most of them.

housebound 9:01 am 25 Jun 09

Cafe’s name: Fawlty Towers?

Granny 8:54 am 25 Jun 09

Hehe! Brilliant and highly enjoyable post!

Which cafe was it?

AG Canberra 8:52 am 25 Jun 09

Good customer service can make up for a host of other deficiencies in any business…Unfortunately many of our businesses are crap when it comes to ‘serving’ the customer.

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