Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Client Communication is Important for Coffee Shops, Too

Author: Sharon Berman | February 6, 2014

This morning, I visited my neighborhood Peet’s Coffee& Tea, where I am a regular.

When I reached the front of the line, the barista said that their credit card machine wasn’t working, so it was cash only.  I still had some money on my Peet’s gift card, which they were able to accept.

In the infrequent case where their credit card machine is down, Peet’s puts a sign on the door letting customers know.  In answering my question about why a sign was not on the front door, the barista told me that some “higher-ups” from the company were visiting the store that day and didn’t want the sign to be up.

The visiting regional manager explained that there was no sign because they didn’t want to lose business from those who had cash (not her exact words, but her meaning), and that if a customer placed an order and didn’t have cash Pete’s would comp their drink.  From what I saw, it was clear that the baristas knew nothing about this policy, since I saw at least one person being inconvenienced by leaving the shop and returning with cash – and some just left altogether.  In addition, as I was leaving, I saw the manager inform the head barista about the comp policy.  I can’t help believing that she would not have said anything to them if I hadn’t talked with her.

From my perspective, the local store was getting bad direction from the “higher ups”.  I have no doubt that without the influence of that regional manager, there would have been a sign in the window informing customers of the cash-only situation so customers could make a decision about whether or not to enter, go get cash, etc., before waiting in line.

Clear, honest communication is important for any brand.  In the future, it would be great if Peet’s chooses to adopt a policy of full disclosure with its customers when similar situations arise.

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