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Man of Mystery - Part I PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shiftless   
Thursday, 21 September 2006

 Improve service to improve your score 

As I said, I have not done any espresso-shop assignments (nor will I); but applying what I know about mystery shoppers and their measurement techniques, I look for habits that I can form that can shave fractions of a second off my drink-prep time. I perform tasks in different order depending on the volume level that the store is receiving, for example. Really, I find it an aesthetic as well as practical challenge. It goes beyond standard espresso-store training to achieve a sort of Zen-like state which not only produces drinks at an optimal rate but continues, even at the most hectic level, to greet each customer with a smile and a thank-you.


Product quality, for industries where the worker can affect it, is commonly measured. Here some of the review may be more subjective – taste, or texture. Depending on the assignment, food temperature may be a concern. Don’t assume that only your side of the counter has a thermometer!


Beyond all of that, clients (the national store chains, usually) will focus on specific aspects of their product standards for a while and then go on to something else. I can only guess how this would apply in an espresso bar, but I have seen restaurant reviews where they will ask about whether the lettuce on a hamburger is crisp or whether any of the French fries have spilled out of the envelope.


The wise barista will be sure that she knows what her employer’s standards are and follow them. You won’t know in advance what particular aspects are being scrutinized, so just follow them all – not just what the dress code requires, but also how to wear it; not just what goes into the drink, but even how to make it. Who knows? “Shaken, not stirred” might not be just from the Bond movies.


I wouldn’t bother trying to identify your mystery shoppers. Just treat every customer and every drink with high regard and maintain your high standards, and you will never go too far wrong.

 In Part II, I will consider whether it makes economic sense for a barista to work on the side as a mystery shopper. In Part III, I will interview a contact from a mystery-shopping company and provide lists of mystery shopping companies, in case any other baristi are interested in taking this up.  shifltess_serving1.thumbnail 

- Shiftless

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