While doing some business school homework, I was thinking about meeting customer needs in new and innovative ways. Specifically, I was thinking about the customers who may regularly or at times want to walk in and walk out with their coffee drink as quickly as possible.

 

Has anyone tried to leverage technology or fashion methods to accommodate these fast-moving customers or otherwise speed up the process of waiting in line, ordering, waiting for the drink to be made, and paying?

 

Has anyone tried pre-ordering via phone call, text message, or internet ordering? Alternative payment methods (prepaid cards, etc)?

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Wow - I've been out with shows and not following up with my BX traffic.

Mike M - I have not had anyone do a "fast lane" kind of thing yet but interesting concept.

 

Deferio - This is exactly the kind of experience we have had when we first started to investigate these alternative order methods.  I agree that quality of the product should always be first and foremost.  The traditional problem with texting etc is that coffee does not hold for 10-20 minutes - it's fundamentally different than most food service (as everyone here knows already).  So, it's in how we implement.  If a store wants to tackle this, then the scenario works like this:

Step 1: Customer texts / tweets / FB or whatever.  The POS receives the order and it sits there - NO product should be made at that time.  

 

Step 2: Customer comes in and walks directly up to the counter (bypassing the line).  Clerk finishes with current customer and then helps the person at the counter that texted etc.  This is all aided with a sign or something that says "pick up your text, tweet etc order here".  

 

So in essence, the person that pre-ordered jumps the line and still gets a quality product.  It simply eliminates standing in line as long. 

 

Sandy - It would be great to have two POS systems there - One for the pre-orders etc.  I don't think the cost is justified however.   

 

Is this for everyone?  Of course not, we have seen a small segment that is looking at this type of technology.  Companies like ours develop for every type of coffee shop.  If we can enhance customer service or offer speedier service for the shops that need it, then it's a win.    I think for a lot of the BX crowd this falls in the same category as drive thrus, super-automatic espresso machines, 20 oz to go cups etc.  It's not for everyone but there are a lot of different types of coffee shops out there.  

 

By the way - we showed off a twitter ordering system (Tweet Ahead) at the Chicago Coffee Fest and had about 30-40% of owners commit that they may be interested in adding something like that in the future. 

But you still cannot account for customers not coming on time. It is the Achilles heel of the whole concept.

Mike Spence said:

Wow - I've been out with shows and not following up with my BX traffic.

Mike M - I have not had anyone do a "fast lane" kind of thing yet but interesting concept.

 

Deferio - This is exactly the kind of experience we have had when we first started to investigate these alternative order methods.  I agree that quality of the product should always be first and foremost.  The traditional problem with texting etc is that coffee does not hold for 10-20 minutes - it's fundamentally different than most food service (as everyone here knows already).  So, it's in how we implement.  If a store wants to tackle this, then the scenario works like this:

Step 1: Customer texts / tweets / FB or whatever.  The POS receives the order and it sits there - NO product should be made at that time.  

 

Step 2: Customer comes in and walks directly up to the counter (bypassing the line).  Clerk finishes with current customer and then helps the person at the counter that texted etc.  This is all aided with a sign or something that says "pick up your text, tweet etc order here".  

 

So in essence, the person that pre-ordered jumps the line and still gets a quality product.  It simply eliminates standing in line as long. 

 

Sandy - It would be great to have two POS systems there - One for the pre-orders etc.  I don't think the cost is justified however.   

 

Is this for everyone?  Of course not, we have seen a small segment that is looking at this type of technology.  Companies like ours develop for every type of coffee shop.  If we can enhance customer service or offer speedier service for the shops that need it, then it's a win.    I think for a lot of the BX crowd this falls in the same category as drive thrus, super-automatic espresso machines, 20 oz to go cups etc.  It's not for everyone but there are a lot of different types of coffee shops out there.  

 

By the way - we showed off a twitter ordering system (Tweet Ahead) at the Chicago Coffee Fest and had about 30-40% of owners commit that they may be interested in adding something like that in the future. 

that's a really good point, john.  i think many of the technologies available are fun, and tempting to integrate into many business paths, but really, we do want to maintain a higher level of service, right?  if faster is better, than everyone can just install those push-button coffee machines found at many (in)convenience stores.

 

sage

the coffee hound

John P said:

Convenience and expediency for the customer is not the same as customer service. Don't confuse the two. Once you start looking for ways to get out drinks faster or to cater to those who want that type of service, you're going down a dangerous road. 

 

Just because technology CAN be used for something, doesn't mean it's an improvement.

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