Cakesandpastriesta Coffee

I’ve stopped going to the Costa Coffee in the town centre, for reasons which will become apparent. But a few days ago it was necessary, as I’d shattered the glass on my cafetière. I approached the branch with a plan in mind; again, for reasons which will become apparent.

Costa, like all other large companies, treats customers with the absolute bare minimum of respect required to not impact on their bottom line. However (again, like all other large companies) it likes to think that it’s providing an enhanced customer experience. Or, at any rate, it likes to think that its customers are thinking that that’s what they’re getting.

Enhanced customer experience, as anyone who’s rung NTL Broadband will know, means giving your customer-facing staff a script to read. It works a treat! So, here’s an experiment for you: go into a Costa shop, order any coffee, and wait. Note down what you get asked. It’ll be a single word, sounding something like “enikeyksawpestriss?”

When I asked in the local Costa for “a large latté, and no cakes or pastries,” the woman serving me said “You’ve been in here before, haven’t you? Well, we have to say that, you know, because you might be from Costa Coffee. Or a mystery shopper!” A mystery shopper, checking that the staff were following a script and not using their initiative. Excellent.

Of course there’ll have been some marketing guru that told Costa to make sure the actual product was mentioned, to bring it to mind in the customer and make it more likely they’d ask for it. Of course the advice will change in a few years’ time, with no rhyme or reason, because that’s how marketing fads work. But when such a heavy-handed attempt to force customer behaviour is emplyed, that’s so obvious you can see the cogs turning, and works to the potential detriment of individual customer-employee relations, is the effect on the purchase really as predictable as some suited gonk seems to think it is?

I don’t know what depresses me more: the fact that Costa think that this is somehow netting them more custom, or that they have to treat their staff like slack-jawed semi-humans as part of the grand plan. Actually, no, I’ve just worked out which depresses me more.

This entry was posted in body, commerce, experience, food, idiom, language, loyalty, marketing, opinion, person, psychology, rants, society. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cakesandpastriesta Coffee

  1. Quinn says:

    When I worked in a call centre, we had a scripted “opening salutation” which changed about 4 times in the first year. Some calls would be monitored and marked, and you would be marked down if you didn’t follow the script to the letter.

    As part of the “salutation” you had to say “How can I help you?”. If you said, “How *may* I help you?” you would be picked up on this grievous departure from company policy.

    After a few months, some pointless and no doubt well paid committee from head office decided to make a change; you guessed it, you now *had* to say “may I” rather than “can I”, and would again be hauled over the coals if you got it wrong. So for the bloody nerve of saying “How can I help you?” you could be disciplined, even though you would have been disciplined the day before for not saying it.

    Did the customer care? Did they even notice? Did they balls.


    (Mmm, you’re right. I *am* a ranty bastard.)

  2. hatmandu says:

    You were lucky to get such an enlightened response from the woman, Mr Grandursine Littlecouch. Whenever I specifically say ‘just…’ or ‘nothing else, thanks’ or whatever, I invariably get asked if I want cakes, pastries, small fries, garlic bread, a leucotomy, some spoons, a small radish, eternal harmony, God, large fries, etc with that.

  3. K says:

    It’s not just the staff who have to stick to scripts.

    A place I recently worked for had a policy of requiring people to actually use the word “delete” in their letter before they could be removed from a charity’s mailing list. “Please stop sending me letters” wouldn’t work.

  4. K says:

    So is the “cakesorpastries” thing better or worse than:

    “A large latte and a cup of tea, please.”
    “A cappucino and a what?”
    “A large latte and a cup of tea.”
    “What size latte?”
    “Large, please. And a cup of tea.”
    “What was the other thing?”
    “A cup of tea, please.”
    “What size tea?”
    “Well, what sizes have you got? It looks like you’ve only got one size.”
    “So what size do you want?”
    “Do you actually do different sizes?”
    [pause] “What size do you want?”

    When I asked for a small, they gave me a large because that was the only size they could do for tea.

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