Tips for Baristas: Connecting with Your Customer Over the Counter

Posted on May 14, 2017 by Ash Bennett

As a barista, your job isn’t just to make good coffee. In reality, your job is about much more; it’s about creating meaningful connections with customers that will keep them coming back for more. Out of these two tasks, connecting with customers is by far the most difficult. After all, a cup of coffee will never demand a refund or tell you about its problems. But if you follow these three simple tasks, developing relationships with your customers will be as easy as pie–or better yet, coffee.


#1: Take the time to learn the customer’s name and how to spell it.

Especially at a coffee house, learning your customers’ names is quite important. Unlike many other café-type business, coffee requires that you ask for the customer’s name and spell it correctly. There’s nothing more impersonal and disheartening than a cup of coffee with your name spelled incorrectly on it . It shows you that the person serving you the coffee doesn’t know you personally and isn’t your friend. For most customers, this is the case, and spelling errors are to be expected. But for a returning customer, you are a sort of friend to them, so knowing the details of their name becomes an expectation that is easily let down. If you do happen to forget a name, it is always better to ask earlier rather than later. Don’t pretend like you remember someone if you really don’t.


#2: Learn and perfect the customer’s signature order.

If a certain woman comes in every morning before work and orders the same cup of joe, it gets to the point where you can predict her order without even having to ask. When that happens, make sure you let the customer know. Smile and ask if it will be “the usual”, a simple phrase that makes a customer feel valued and included. Keep in mind that a customer who orders the same drink will know the nuances of its taste. So take special care when you are crafting their beverage that you don’t make any careless mistakes or changes; they will notice.


#3: Make an effort to stay in their area.

Often times, savvy repeat customers know how to avoid your cafe’s crowded rush hour. If that is the case, you might find yourself alone with a certain customer on a regular basis. With no other drinks to make, it may be tempting to head towards the back and work on other tasks like restocking or food prep. But if a customer is out at the main counter sitting alone, he might just want someone to talk to. So instead of retreating to the trenches of employee-only areas, make a conscious effort to work out front. Grab a rag and do some much-needed cleaning of your brewing machinery, bring some food prep out to the front sink, or sweep while you chat. Chances are, your regular customer will treasure these moments, and you will become more and more curious about what’s going on with their life too.


These habits may seem awkward at first, especially if you forget a customer’s name or reach an awkward lull in conversation. But over time, both you and your company will benefit from the mutual relationships that are formed in the process. No matter how you go about creating these relationships, one thing is certain–they are essential for any successful business, large or small. Do your part as a barista and remember to follow these three crucial steps.

Let us know how you connect with your customers, in the comments below!

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