Paying attention pays off by creating raving fans

(This is one of our weekly FiveFour emails. Sign up to receive these here).

I heard a story recently that’s a real-life demonstration of the principles we follow at FiveFour.

It’s a coffee story, which got me interested right away.

Mmmmmm, coffee.

Susie Patrick owns the Breadsmith stores in Sioux Falls.

Mmmmmm, bread.

And while Susie runs a fine operation in her own right, this isn’t a story about her, though she is a prime character.

Susie stops at the Scooters Coffee at 33rd Street and Minnesota Ave. every morning for a latte. Recently, she ordered two, hers and one for an employee.

Wouldn’t you know it, the espresso machine was down. The staff at Scooters offered a cold drink but hot espresso wasn’t going to happen for another 20 minutes or so.

Susie, though appreciative, declined any substitute.

Inside the small shop, Travis Rhoades was working diligently to get the espresso flowing. Travis isn’t just a repairman, he’s also the franchise owner of the nine — soon to be ten — Scooters locations in the Sioux Falls area.

The Scooters staff noted the customer didn’t order anything else.

Travis asked if they knew the customer’s name. They did not.

“It’s the Breadsmith Lady,” one employee said. “She gets a latte every day.”

That was a signal to Travis. As the owner, he’s been able to grow his business due to a commitment to his customers. He trains staff to observe customer behaviors in order to pick up on small cues.

“It’s how to engage in a meaningful conversation in 30 seconds,” he says.

Even in the drive-up.

Window stickers, hats, sports bags in the seat – they are all openings for conversation that can lead to actionable information.

It might be a quick “Go Vikings” written on the side of the coffee cup.

It might be remembering their kids play on a traveling soccer team and they are always trying to get out of town.

It might be that lady who works at Breadsmith. Or, as it turns out, owns them.

Travis noticed the opportunity, not just to shore up a customer relationship, but to model that behavior for the team.

So, once the espresso machine was back up and working, he whipped up a couple lattes and drove down 33rd Street to the Breadsmith store with a special delivery.

He still didn’t know her name until we connected the dots and told him.

“I just know her as the Breadsmith Lady,” he says.

Susie was thrilled to get the delivery and to learn she’s got a nickname.

“It’s a testament to his crew that he recognized me and my drink,” Susie says. “It’s customer service you don’t normally see anymore. I hope that people refer to our service at Breadsmith the way I was treated.”

You can find different customer experience touchpoints in this story. But the one that struck immediately is Surprise.

Yes, it was surprise for Susie to get lattes delivered. But that’s not the lesson.

What’s important to focus on is the culture, the intentional strategies that Scooters reinforces. They pay attention to customers as individuals, so that they can personalize the experience.

Travis says he’s always looking for opportunities to reward and demonstrate the customer-centric behavior. They are intentional about who they hire. And he preaches common sense over policies and procedure.

“It’s not the Breadsmith Lady’s fault that our machine is down.”

It would have been easy to write it off as just another face in another car in a stream of cars every morning.

That’s not what they did.

Because what goes better together than coffee and bread in the morning?

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