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“So why are we having a staff meeting?” asked Strawberry Kaimakamian.”What can we do in twenty minutes?”

“Yeah, like I’m wondering the same because we haven’t had this sort of thing all year. Not since we got those bonus checks,” said Jeanne Sullivan. “I could use a bonus.”

“I need to retrain everyone,” said Ms. Anne Thrope. “I know it’s a generational expression, but I cannot abide the response ‘no problem’ when a customer orders something. Of course, it’s not a problem. It’s your job! It’s what we do for people. They order and we provide and we thank them for coming to this particular coffee shop and buying something from us. It would be no problem for them to decide to go to another shop. We don’t want them to make that choice.

“So now I’m asking everyone to thank each customer when they order. If you can’t say ‘thank you,’ say something positive to acknowledge their order. ‘Coming right up’ works for me. So does ‘Would you like something else to go with that?’ I want all of you to practice responses that sound to my ears more positive than ‘no problem.’”

“Ms. Anne, you’re showing your age,” Strawberry said. “My generation understands that the transaction is complete when we say ‘no problem.’”

“And you’re right about that—except I want this shop to stay in business by extending better-than-expected customer service. I went to a fast-food place the other day and when I ordered, the counter-person responded, ‘My pleasure.’ I know that taking my order was not a pleasure to that person—other than getting a paycheck—and that is part of that business’s hard-core staff training. It sounded so much better than ‘no problem.’ That’s what I’m pushing. My father had another kind of retail business and he drilled it into all our heads that we made sure to say to each customer something like ‘Thank you. Please come again.’ Of course we rolled our eyes then. Did it do any good? We didn’t have marketing surveys, but people returned. That’s all. While you’re working here, practice saying, ‘Thank you’ or ‘Coming right up’ or ‘You’re welcome’ or ‘Enjoy your drink.’ You will please this crotchety other generation owner and we’ll have more fun together. That’s all for today. Next meeting we will talk about the bonuses Jeanne wants. Enjoy!”

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