Providing Personalized Service in an Unattended Retail Environment

Call attention to the lengths you go to, and the people on your team that make what you do great. If you stand out from the competition, tell your story. You deserve to!

Connect With Your Office Coffee Customer Over Coffee… Literally
Unattended retail presents us with the challenge of missing the opportunity to receive most, if not all, of the customer feedback that happens during the user experience. There is a common goal of many successful operators when it comes to servicing a micro-market or office coffee service (OCS) location. That is, to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind, and to act as a concierge business that provides just-in-time service.

So how do we connect with the customer, aside from occasional interaction with the contact person at the location or, short of the end user calling in with a complaint? While there are many successful and creative ways to achieve this goal, with regard to OCS, let’s start with the three ideas below.

Get Personal And Allow The Route Merchandiser To Tell Their Story
What is their favorite coffee concoction or roast in the bean-to-cup machine? What is their favorite pod, single serve or fractional pack? Why? Do they take it with a flavored creamer or sugar? How many cups do they enjoy each day?

If you offer micro-market service in conjunction with your OCS service, what do they like to eat for breakfast along with their coffee? (It certainly can’t hurt if it happens to be a pastry or breakfast item that you sell in your micro-market). What do they have as an afternoon pick me up? Is it an espresso or darker roast? Do they enjoy an iced coffee on a hot summer day?

Put together a professional looking photo of your route merchandiser on a foam core board along with their story and put it next to the machine or on your office coffee fixture.

Creating a story that others may want to follow, creates an up-sell opportunity for your business.

Say Hello
Have you ever stayed in a hotel and arrived at your room to find a note from the person that “maid-up” your temporary space?

If you haven’t, the note typically implies “I was here, my intent was to tidy up the place and make it look nice for your arrival. If you need anything or find that anything is missing, here’s my number, please contact me. I’m happy to assist.”

So, what’s stopping you from giving your route merchandiser a stack of professional looking cards that send the message “I was here on (day of the week), I hope you find everything you need, and if you don’t here’s my number. HAVE A GREAT WEEK! Signed, __________.”

Serve Up The Story Behind Your Brands
Every brand has a story, and the company behind the brand likely spends a lot of money promoting it. And, they’ll likely be happy to provide you with free material that you can use to brag about why you’re offering your customer something different or unique. More importantly, doing so helps to build value as to why your customer base should consume and buy what you’re brewing every day. It may also set you apart from your competition.

When it comes to coffee, there’s a story behind every bean and the region it comes from, and I’m suggesting that you tell that story. Where are the beans grown? Are they Fair Trade Certified? Are they organic? Do they carry a popular brand name? Are you using compostable pods or recyclable single serve cups?

When I had my OCS business, I partnered with a local roaster who used organic beans and roasted them himself. He rode his motorcycle to work each day and parked it on the roasting plant floor. While the beans roasted, in a roaster he engineered, he played his guitar. Our customers thought the story was neat, many wanted to support a local business, and our coffee sales and customer satisfaction scores reflected it.

With regard to the machine that brews the coffee, what makes it special? Office coffee equipment manufacturers have a story as well, and by promoting it you label yourself as an informed operator. When the end of a contract arrives, and the location is shopping for new vendors, you may be recognized as the one that is providing the location with reliable or top of the line equipment for their daily coffee needs.

Call attention to the lengths you go to, and the people on your team that make what you do great. If you stand out from the competition, tell your story. You deserve to!


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