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 cafetiÃ¨re. 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 lattÃ©, 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.