When Great Products mask over Poor Service

Butlers Chocolates

Great Products - Poor Service?

I found myself in the queue of Butlers Chocolate Coffee Shop for about the fifth time in the week for our ritual morning treat and we just had to leave and search the streets of Cork for another outlet that might serve coffee as good (Cork Coffee Roasters on Bridge Street is a little too far away).

Unfortunately we didn’t find a better cup of coffee anywhere so I just have to try to solve my dilemma by blogging about it in the hope that they might notice.

Butlers Chocolate Coffee Shops do great coffee but at times the customer service is just appalling (my social media contacts will have seen a zillion posts about this from me). Some of the staff are very friendly and some are really quite the opposite. I find this incredible – I go in there at least three or four times a week, I buy a few coffees each time and some of the regular staff would neither smile or make eye contact.

There is also a very definite policy of preparing the coffee for the customer and leaving it on the counter and then “shouting” out the order until the customer hears and collects. You could be in there on a quiet day, sitting having a chat while waiting for your coffee , just feet from the counter and the staff will still “shout” your order instead of popping it over to you – I must admit it drives me nuts!

This must be how the staff are trained and I feel it also probably creates a culture whereby a “no smile” scenario is acceptable as well. I can see the logic around staff overhead but this policy needs to be applied with some intelligence and “cop on”.

Hilariously they recently introduced a new electronic loyalty card system called a “happiness” card and for the few weeks around it’s introduction all the staff had t-shirts with “happiness” written boldly across them. With the card you earn your usual one in ten coffees free but you also earn loyalty points – all designed to have you coming back. Now there’s a good idea!

This week I witnessed the very worst customer service incident, which motivated me to eventually write – A woman with a young kid and a new born baby around her neck in a little sling ordered a low fat latte. She seemed under pressure as she sat down while waiting for her coffee – the “shout” duly followed: “low fat latte” to be followed by an even louder and more impatient “low fat latte”.

The poor lady who was sitting down and a little under pressure with her toddler and baby responded “I’ll get it when I am ready“. At this stage practically every customer in the coffee shop had heard the awful interaction and were trying to figure out why none of the three staff on duty could make an exception and walk the few feet over to the woman with her coffee.

I was chatting with a buddy of mine and I was about to collect the coffee from the counter and bring it over to the woman only to be beaten to the punch by another customer.


The product is great so we keep going back but at some point a new coffee shop will open that will know the value of smiling and the even greater value of bringing coffee down to a customer in extreme or not so extreme situations .. I look forward to it.

If you have a great product don’t let it create an opportunity for poor service to creep in.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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2 Responses to “When Great Products mask over Poor Service”

  1. Keith Says:

    Have you taken yourself a little further down the street to Nash’s. I find they have coffee to talk about as well. You even get a selection of little cakes or treats at the milk section to tarry along with you ‘gratis complementare’ of nash’s for your coffee.

    As for service….We are sleeping past service giant!!!! As a race and our irish culture, we are complete novices and infants in the league of vetting for expected service. How often, and your example above has it too, do we just look on instead of just telling the staff member, to stop shouting the next time, and explain that the lady is with a baby. How often do we get a sub standard meal, yet editable, and pay the cheque and walk out, moaning and telling others not to go there again?

    I travel frequently in Europe, and the Belgians, Germans and Dutch are masters in speaking their mind. Watch them next time you are in their company, and see the upright expectation from them for service. You’ll cringe but smile!

    So come on Ireland, we need to wake the sleeping giant of service again, bring back the Irish charm, and do it like we want it done onto us. Butlers be aware….the sleeping giants of expectation are coming at you!!!

    • Greg Canty Says:

      well said Keith – great post! I find people don’t want to invite the “tension” of taking a staff member on about poor service, which is often the problem. We quietly move on elsewhere!!

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