During my two visits this week to Costa Coffee in People’s Square , Karen Russell’s post, Every employee is a PR person really came to life for me. Although I had visited the same venue on each of my trips, my two visits left me with starkly contrasting impressions.
During my first visit, after ordering an espresso and a slice of pie, I decided to use the restroom to wash my hands. I told one of the employees that I was using the restroom and not to throw away my espresso. After I came back, the same employee handed me a new cup of espresso, explaining that my original cup may have cooled down while I was away. Needless to say, Costa Coffee was looking at a happy customer. This particular employee went above and beyond my expectations. As a result, my perception of Costa Coffee was positively affected. I was satisfied with my purchase.
During my second visit, I also ordered an espresso. After receiving my espresso in a to go cup, I told one of the employees that my order wasn’t to go and asked if they had china for my espresso. The main reason I visit Costa Coffee over McDonald’s for example, is for the experience and part of that experience is drinking out of china rather than cardboard. The employee said that they didn’t have any cups left. It really didn’t matter much to me, however in my head I wondered how difficult it would have been to simply wash one of the espresso cups. This particular employee went below my expectations of Costa Coffee. As a result, my perception of Costa Coffee was negatively affected. I was dissatisfied with my purchase.
An employee who fails to live up to the customer’s expectations will without a doubt cause post purchase dissonance, resulting in the loss of business and possibly the loss of a loyal customer. On the other hand, an employee who meets or goes beyond the customer’s expectations will cause post purchase satisfaction, resulting in an increase of business and possibly a lifelong customer.
Front line employees play arguably a larger role in the PR of your company (particularly in the service industry), than the PR administrators themselves. After all, your customers come face to face with your employees every time they step foot into your business. Never underestimate the impact front line employees have on your company’s customer perception and brand identification.