When one hears these words, to most of us comes to mind the image of a man with a mustache, dressed in a poncho and a hat, slowly moving with a donkey through the coffee plantations of a mountain range. The experience I will tell you about is exemplary for many other I have lived in Colombian gastronomic establishments and is opposed to the image of the slow and dormant South American.
Who would have thought that in the middle of Brickell Avenue in Miami, surrounded by banks and Manhattan-style hotels, there is a corner of my beloved Latin America called La Estación Café. I entered doing a quick visual survey. The place was clean, well lit and in their tables and chairs had the national country colors yellow, blue and red. The customers sitting at the tables were mostly “Hispanic”, term with which the US categorizes its residents with Latin origin. I thought that this place seems to be a well-kept secret, just as Colombia.
A stainless steel display case exhibited the different specialties: Arepas, Empanadas and Pandebono. Contrary to the long line I would have encountered at any Starbucks, here there was none, unbelievable, although the place was well visited. The owner behind the counter took my order directly and communicated it ipso facto to his wife (I deduced that she was, since he called her“my love”). The wife began to prepare the coffee after respectfully reconfirming with me (without telling me my love) what she understood was my order and immediately requested the cheese Arepa from the kitchen employee. At the same moment the owner handling the cashier had me pay and in less than a minute I was sitting down having breakfast and watching the Radio Caracol news on a flat screen TV.This was a service experience in which my expectations were clearly exceeded. First and foremost all basics were delivered 100%: fresh food, well-prepared and hot coffee as ordered and delicious and the service gentle and personalized..
Second, and what really surprised me,was the speed in which everything happened and that the process was seamless and error-free. The key here was communication. The owner who took the order, listened carefully, repeated to reconfirm that he had understood correctly, immediately passed the order verbally and aloud to his wife, who reconfirmed with me the details. In the process I even added a juice (cross-selling). Everything was fast and a triangle of communication was formed without intermediaries and where every message came and went several times and all collaborated working with a common purpose: To dispatch my breakfast with minimal delay. Wow, and I am not the most articulate communicator, but nevertheless this team from the Café Estacion knew how to generate such a productive communication that they delighted me even before I tried the also tasty cheese Arepa.
This experience is subjective and does not necessarily guarantee that other customers have experienced the same treatment, but I am sharing it to exemplify a principle and important factor of great Customer Service. It shows that communication is key and goes beyond saying and understanding, there is a component of purpose and attitude that determines its effectiveness. It is noticeable that the owners chose to develop a successful business giving an excellent service. This predisposition, whether of cultural origin or not, is reflected in their attitude and thus represents the engine to generate a communication within their coffee shop that results in customers receiving what they want without delay and with the highest quality. Not even the big chains with all their standards, operating manuals and training are able to avoid lines of waiting customers. It is vital that organizations develop an authentic culture with a proactive service attitude aimed at delivering the product to the customer better than what is expected and immediately.
South Florida, August 2017
Written by Pedro Cabrera Scheider after his visit to: http://www.laestacioncafe.net