Have you ever met a “Gun Barista”?

Barista: “Hi Mike.  Your usual?”.

Customer: “Yes please!”.

Such a simple, beautiful exchange:  the customer receives instant acknowledgement and recognition; the employee a sense of accomplishment.  No long, drawn out order in “coffee-speak”…extra shot, non-fat, blah, blah, blah.  One simple question.

I often wonder why companies can’t replicate this simple exchange?  For that matter, why can’t Starbucks, as big and profitable as they are, consistently replicate this experience?  No doubt this is why much of the customer experience discussion has been devoted to employee experience.   In Australia, it turns out there’s a name for these highly valuable preparers of caffeinated beverages:  Gun baristas.

According to David Gee of the Baristas Basics Coffee Academy (see “How to be a Gun Barista” – Bean Scene Magazine) “Baristas vary in ability but few can claim to be a “Gun Barista”. You have to be energetic, technically proficient, creative and multi-skilled…”  Aside from what you might expect would be included in David’s list of essential skills to become a gun barista (proper training; a love of coffee; knowledge of espresso machines) is Knowing Your Customers:

“Gun baristas know not only what their customers drink but they actually get to know them. For budding baristas just starting out, we advocate starting by memorising the names of five new faces each week. By using their name every day they come in and trying to memorise their standard order, by the end of the week the customers’ names and orders will be part of the barista’s stored memory.”

Getting to know your customers.  Memorization.  The data and technology to replicate “Mike.  The usual?” is available.  When I go to Amazon.com, I’m greeted with “Hello, William” and product recommendations just for me.  Not exactly “gun barista” level stuff, but better than many ecommerce experiences.  There are basically four components necessary to deliver this experience:

  1. Customer data
  2. Data analytics
  3. A method to identify a specific customer at any given touch point (ie. a card, an app, etc,…)
  4. A communication vehicle (ie. a website, an employee, etc,..)

Most organizations have all of these components – just as all coffee shops have baristas.  The key differentiating factor is leadership: providing and prioritizing (and funding) a “gun barista level” vision of the customer experience.  Keep it simple.  Focus on a few critical customer interactions – in this case, when the customer approaches the counter to place their order.  Visualize what an amazing (ie. gun barista level) experience would be.  Tell that story to the organization (video is a great tool) – and hold them accountable to bring it to fruition.




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