Why transparency wins customers

You know, I so often experience small moments of gratitude, in which I then attempt to remind myself to blog about those moments “at some point in the future”. Today, I’m rectifying that by blogging about two such moments right away.

I worked this morning at The Hatch, a small local coffee shop by the beach nearby to me. The staff there are friendly and attentive, and always go above and beyond to assist, despite the establishment not being very busy, which could easily result in a dip in motivation. They’re open and honest, and always friendly.

Having unfortunately missed this morning’s #coworkpress event (a local gathering run in Cape Town, where a bunch of folks who work with WordPress get together and co-work), I decided to pop out to the same coffee shop and get a change of scenery. For the record, this such coffee shop is the Bootlegger Coffee Company in Century City. This is where the magic moment happened.

When an establishment is both busy and successful (lots of patrons doesn’t always mean success, and doesn’t always mean good cashflow), it’s very easy for such an establishment to adopt a “we don’t really need you” attitude to individual customers. I’ve seen this happen time and again, and have seen establishments close as a result. When customers are queuing at your door with money in hand, it’s very easy to turn away “that one customer”.

I was immediately greeted at the door, yet hadn’t fully made up my mind about where to sit or whether I was going to stick around (I was kind of hoping to catch the last few co-workers, to be honest), so I sauntered around the coffee shop a bit. Seeing that I had missed the co-working rush, I grabbed a seat and was promptly given a menu and told that “someone would be with me soon”.

With around 5-10 minutes passing, I became keenly aware that I hadn’t yet been assisted. I carried on working anyway, so it didn’t bother me too much. At this point, I noticed a young lady standing to the side of the serving area, taking a few seconds to catch her breath during the busy shift. Instead of choosing to take a few seconds for her breath and ignore me, she saw me and decided to assist. She didn’t need to, as I don’t believe it’s her section of the coffee shop. She chose to. She asked if I’d been assisted, and promptly assisted me. Additionally, she asked if I’m eating anything, to which I replied that I wasn’t. She then made it very clear that she wouldn’t bother me too much, so I could work, and that she’d bring a water as well as my coffee, so I’d stay hydrated. She’d check on me every 30 minutes or so, to ask if I needed anything.

To me, I was quite taken aback (in a great way!) by this level of openness. I instantly went from almost walking out, to being a won-over customer!

It’s a small moment, and would be easily forgotten by many. I choose to remember this moment, and to learn as much as I can from it. Being open and honest with a customer, in a friendly and attentive manner, wins customers every time.

Every customer is important. You never know where in their journey with you each customer is at, so treat each customer like you want to win them over at every step.

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