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Go the extra mile—or at least the extra 20 feet

Over Memorial Day weekend, I brought my son to a two-day basketball camp in Lakewood, CO. The first day, we stopped by an independent coffee shop (flanked to the north and south by Starbucks) where I ordered a double espresso in a ceramic cup for dine-in.

Cooper and I then took seats among the open tables. A few minutes later I heard the barista call out, “Double espresso!”

When I looked up, I saw my espresso order sitting on the far end of the bar. I got up, walked the 20 feet or so to the end of the bar, and retrieved my order. There, I noticed the barista talking with two other employees behind the counter and thought about the opportunity she missed to “go the extra mile” and deliver the order to my table. (For the record, there were three employees and five customers total in the coffee shop, with no customers in line waiting to be served.)

A few weeks ago I posted this blog containing three unique words that pertain to exceptional customer service. One of the words was cosset, which means to pamper or treat with excessive indulgence. I think of cosseting as a higher form of expressing genuine interest in a customer. It’s the subtle difference between handing customers’ purchases over the counter and walking around the counter to hand them directly to the customer, as do Nordstrom employees. It’s really nothing more than an extra step—a gesture of appreciation and respect. And it doesn’t go unnoticed.

The barista who fulfilled my order missed an opportunity to cosset her guest and, in so doing, make a positive lasting impression. Cynical employees might say, “C’mon, you’re perfectly capable of getting up and walking 20 feet to get your own espresso.” And they’re right—as my actions demonstrated.

Similarly, a guest in your home is capable of fetching her own cup of coffee but my hunch is that most of you will insist on serving her. And if you don’t, over time, I suspect you’ll have fewer guests in your home.

It’s no different at the local coffee shop. Over time, it too will have fewer guests to serve—starting with me. (We chose not to return on the second day of the camp, as there were plenty of other options nearby.)

Illustration: Aaron McKissen

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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