I’m Martin, a Business Specialist here at P&R. In this Article, I tell you about a recent experience and why customer interaction is of utmost importance.

Impact of customer interaction

While on a 3 week holiday in India to see family and attend a wedding in late 2023, I was having breakfast (a Trailblazer Pourtable goes well with roti and a banana!) and it got me thinking: How are people so happy here?!

For a country that has such a level of difference from Australia in terms of infrastructure, convenience, access to water & food and general wealth, it can be hard to understand how people are genuinely happy and want to make sure you are too. Whether it was the local fruit seller on the corner, the auto (rickshaw) driver or the staff in a cafe, they were just happy.

Having a passion for coffee and hospitality, my mind transferred to home and the thought of the importance of our hospitality interaction with customers. Our roles as the “face of the venue” can have a pivotal impact on another’s experience, day and, ultimately, happiness.

We’ve all experienced a level of service that truly made our day or, conversely, put us in a mood worse than the person who inflicted us with their poor state of mind. 

Customer interaction

Having been lucky to call Hospitality and Retail my career for most of my working life, I know the joy and personal fulfilment it gives you when you see how a simple yet genuine comment such as ‘How was your coffee?’ or ‘How’s your day been?’ can take you to a conversation that brightens the other person’s day.

Here are a few thoughts on why good service is important and why it’s easy to get right;

Chance to spread positive vibes:

Encountering hundreds of individuals daily implies that your influence, whether positive or negative, extends far and wide. Embrace this as a golden opportunity to emanate positivity. You never know when you might receive the uplifting energy you once shared from someone else in the future.

Use it to spread knowledge:

Navigating customer challenges with grace:

Encountering an impatient customer eagerly awaiting their takeaway coffee or receiving less than positive feedback on a meticulously brewed cup of filter coffee can be disheartening. However, there's no need to take it personally; instead, view it as a valuable opportunity for education and personal growth. Take a moment to explain the reasons behind any delays, highlighting that specialty coffee requires more time than the machine at the petrol station. 

Pablo and Rusty's Cafe

Engage in a constructive conversation about the aspects of the coffee that didn't meet their expectations, whether it be in the preparation method or the choice of coffee beans. Perhaps, the funky and spicy Indonesian filter wasn't to their liking, and a more balanced option from Colombia may better suit their preferences.

Pablo and Rusty's coffee

Introverts can be customer superstars too

I can tell you I wasn’t a 15-year-old kid who could talk to anyone like I can now. I was shy, reserved and dreaded most customer interactions. Multiple jobs early in my life that involved talking to people helped me gain confidence and find my voice. 

Do you have a team member like this who’s viewed as ‘not great with customers’? Talk to them about it and guide them to grow to love talking, it’s such a powerful life tool!

Some people I’ve met have even used customer service-facing roles (barista, restaurant server, front of house) to improve communication and add another skill to their repertoire!

Pablo and Rusty's Cafe

So what was this post all about?

Our effect and the culture surrounding us can be contagious. High fives and over-the-top endless compliments aren’t needed. If that’s you, awesome, but it’s important to be the genuine you, not a forced version. At least be open and warm.

A simple acknowledgement of a new customer's presence when they walk in makes them feel noticed. Offer a smile and a warm genuine greeting, or ask for feedback on that coffee when clearing the table. You can turn a simple exchange of buying a coffee into an experience that is a personal and memorable interaction. This is lasting and impactful.

The chaos in the Hyderabad & Mumbai streets and the strangely beautiful ebb & flow of the vast number of people simply going about their day is a great memory. But the smile or wave I sent out that was returned with a joyful smile and customary ‘head wobble’ is what I truly remember.

We often forget what someone said and how the coffee truly tasted, but we rarely forget how people made us feel. 

Stay smiling.