I recently visited a local coffee shop, and happened to overhear the customer in front of me mispronounce the name of one of the beverages on the menu.
“Can I please have a tall LOTTY?” she asked.
The barista did not quite sneer, but managed to convey that emotion when she said, “Oh, you mean a LAH-TAY?”
The customer meekly answered in the affirmative, and moved to the end of the counter. She paid her tab. But I wonder if she will ever go back to that coffee shop again?
I also wonder what was the purpose of correcting the customer?
As near as I can see the only reason for doing it was to send the message: “you pronounced it wrong.”
That much is clear, and, I think, accurate.
Anything I say about the motivation that the barista had in correcting the customer would be mere speculation. Was the barista jaded, angry, disdainful, malicious? I don’t really know.
I do know that she cost her store a potential bundle of money from that one customer, who was made to feel stupid.
The most alarming thing about this story is, I’m pretty sure the owner of the coffee shop would have been appalled to learn about this. I’m sure it’s not his intent that his customers be treated with scorn. I’m sure he simply doesn’t know.
Which leads me to ask you this potentially uncomfortable question: do such things happen at your business?
I’m certain you don’t intend for them to happen… But do they happen anyway?
How do you know?
Something to think about.
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