Instead of calling a customer by their drink order to receive it, it's more personable to ask for their name. And who doesn't like to hear their name?

In your experience, do customers offer their real name or say a "coffee name" (to make it easier to pronounce or be cute)? Or does this mainly occur at large franchises?

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I can't speak for everyone but as a customer I've never liked people asking my name. I don't know why but it always gives me the creeps. I much prefer baristas to call me by my order or the main part of the order. Maybe I'm the exception though.
Jay...
great post...
we always get to know the customer for the sake of knowing them...not for our convenience in pushing a drink out.
Deferio said:
Jay...
great post... we always get to know the customer for the sake of knowing them...not for our convenience in pushing a drink out.

I just love getting to know customers and hearing their stories. If someone seems like they want to keep to themselves, I just be nice and move on.

Sure, making great coffee and working on the bottom line are important. But if a customer has a bad experience, the rest doesn't matter.
Kenneth Womack said:
I can't speak for everyone but as a customer I've never liked people asking my name. I don't know why but it always gives me the creeps. I much prefer baristas to call me by my order or the main part of the order. Maybe I'm the exception though.


This is understandable. For me, it would like a non family member calling me a nickname. It would be very uncomfortable.
Hmmm, the last couple of times I left the United States, I found cafes that were a bit pretentious, places that knew my name, places that were indifferent, places that got me high, places that welcomed me warmly and places that served really poor quality coffee. I should also add that I recently visit cafes in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Vancouver and Victoria.

Matt B-
Most certainly it can be odd when someone you don't know calls you by your name, but chances are that it's odd to you because we've become used to a certain level of indifference and unfamiliarity in our world. Years ago, I started visiting this cigar shop. For the first several weeks, I mainly kept to myself and chatted with a couple of the other patrons. I never told anyone on staff my name. Finally, I'm leaving one day and one of the tobacconists tells me: "Thanks Jay, see you next time." Without a doubt, it was a bit odd. I was surprised that they knew my name. I didn't tell them, I didn't think they were interested but as I thought about it - I realized how cool it was that they knew who I was. It demonstrated a level of importance.

I think it's safe to say that on this forum we're mainly talking about the operations of small, independent operations and not chain store (or airport concession) operations. Like the shop any of you work for, my shops are continuously fighting for "market share" and customers. We want our baristas to be personable and friendly, and we want them to know our customers. Because again, business is about profitability. Your livelihood and your ability to continue pursuing the craft that you love so much is completely dependent on your company's profitability.

For years I've heard baristas bitch and moan about a litany of things: why can't we travel? How about we compete? Can we get a new grinder? How about a new espresso machine? How about getting the fridge fixed or replaced? Can we go to barista jams? What about a trip to origin? Can you take us to SCAA? Can we get new paint? New fixtures? New coffee! A new tamper at least?

Whatever the desire, none of it is possible without profit. Make sure you do everything you can to ensure that your company's revenue exceeds its expenses. Generate profit. Attract and maintain customers. Keep them happy and spending money. Charge them full-tilt for the best damn coffee they can find anywhere. Work for good people who give a hoot and generate profit for the company, then all those things above are possible.

So while you're standing there trying to decide if learning the names of your customers is important or just "too weird" for you, remember that your lifestyle literally depends on it.

Jennifer-
One would hope that a professional barista would be adept at reading and sensing a customer. Yes, you may want to get a name but if you're stupid enough to sense that the customer is uncomfortable and you insist and force that person to give up their name then you're the one creating the bad experience for the customer.

"Bad experiences" as perceived by the customer are completely under your control.
I'm going to run a poll on my blog and find out what customers think.

Whether they mind or not or, if they prefer after visiting more than once.
In the interest of full disclosure, I work in an independent retail bakery. I do serve single origin coffees to our customers, but it's drip only, at this point. From a customer service angle, though, I can say I am fortunate to be able to greet many of our customers by name, in this small Southern town. I also get to take care of their experience from the moment they approach the display case to the moment they walk out the door. What's really weird? When I wait on a customer I don't know from Adam, and he or she knows MY name!
i enjoy making up names for my customers, like so:

me: "good morning, chuckles mcgillicutty"
customer: "my name is martha"
me: "what would you like to drink, chuckles?"

i find it facilitates creativity and imagination within the workspace
I've always asked for names and made it a policy for employees to do so as well. Everyone does like to hear their name ... and besides ... how else will that cutie you're flirting with be able to suavely introduce themselves? ;-)
Paul Yates said:
In the interest of full disclosure, I work in an independent retail bakery. I do serve single origin coffees to our customers, but it's drip only, at this point. From a customer service angle, though, I can say I am fortunate to be able to greet many of our customers by name, in this small Southern town. I also get to take care of their experience from the moment they approach the display case to the moment they walk out the door. What's really weird? When I wait on a customer I don't know from Adam, and he or she knows MY name!


I've always had to wear a name tag so customers will already be calling me by name. One of the ways I ask customers for their name is "you get to know my name, so what's yours? it's only fair". This is with those customers who are shy or more private but have come in a few times.
Jared Rutledge said:
i enjoy making up names for my customers, like so:

me: "good morning, chuckles mcgillicutty"
customer: "my name is martha"
me: "what would you like to drink, chuckles?"

i find it facilitates creativity and imagination within the workspace

if a customer comes into your shop 3 times and the barista is still asking their name per order, the customer is going to feel offended because they are going to think the barista is an asshole who can't remember them.
in fact, it's probably because the barista sees too many people a day to remember everyone.
i'm a firm believer in learning customers' names as they become regulars. they feel like they've earned their position in your memory, ergo: they feel good.

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