Communication skills and my morning coffee

by Betty Lochner on February 2, 2011

I had a very weird communication experience this week.  My daughter and two other girlfriends went with me through my favorite coffee kiosk. We ordered four coffee drinks.  None of them unusual or especially hard to make – just three flavored lattes and an Americano, please.

Please go to the back of the line

As we pulled up, a car pulled up behind us and another showed up in the other drive up window.  Our Barista took our order and then said to me, “Since you have multiple orders, can you go to the back of the line?”  Huh?  My initial reaction was to follow directions, so I pulled up, went around the loop again, and to the back of the line.

Why did I do that? Why did she ask me to do that?

We spent the rest of the day trying to figure that out.

Why would someone in the tip getting business ask such a thing? What happened to first come, first served? To good customer service?  What if 15 more cars appeared? Would we ever get our morning cup of java?

When I pulled back up to the window I said, “That was different.  I have never been asked to do that before.” Her response? “That will be $12.30.  Do you want straws?”

So, guess what coffee kiosk lost my business?  Forever.

A simple conversation would have fixed the problem.  Something like, “Wow, it’s getting busy.”   To which I would say, “Yeah, it is, and you are doing a great job.”

She would get a nice tip and I would get my favorite coffee from my favorite spot.


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Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Sethbebad February 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

Wow – that’s some horrible Customer Service. I’ve worked in every form of customer service and never heard of a situation like that.

It takes 10 times the amount of money in advertisement, etc. to bring a new customer to your business than to retain an old loyal customer. They lost big on that business strategy.

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