“Good morning, Elizabeth,” says the man at the coffee stand. “The usual?”
“Yes, please.” I fiddle with my purse to get the correct change. “Sorry, I don’t have enough money,” I say. “I’ll just go to the cash machine.”
I leave the counter and cross the street to the nearest cash point. When I get back, my large skinny latte with one sugar is standing on the counter. I hand the barista a note, and he gives me back a fistful of change. He stamps my loyalty card. Four more coffees before I get a free one.
The whole exchange is cheerful. It pleases me that he knows my name and my order. I don’t notice the crowds on the streets as I finish the journey to work. My coffee tastes better because it was made for me by someone who cares. My day starts well.
On the way home after work I stop off to buy some shoelaces in a sports shop. The packets of laces are hung up behind the counter.
“I’d like some brown boot laces please,” I ask the assistant.
He grunts, and points to a packet of rainbow-coloured laces.
“No, brown ones. Across a bit.”
He points to another packet – black shoelaces.
“No, the next ones across. The ones that say boot laces on the packet and are brown.”
Finally, he points to the right packet. “Yes, those ones.”
By the time he’s selected the right packet, rung up the product and told me the price, I’m incredibly frustrated. He should know his products, I think. He should listen to his customers. I think of all the other times I’ve received bad service, at the bank, from the gym, from the insurance agent. The tube is too crowded, and I’m cross all the way home.
When you are dealing with your project customers or stakeholders, are you the barista or the shop assistant?