Elevating Customer Service in Your Teahouse: Training and Management Strategies

One truth persists in customer service, whether you’re running a small tea café, shop or a grand teahouse: If you can guarantee customers an exceptional experience, they’ll keep coming back. They’ll also spread the word about your teahouse, helping you build brand awareness and generate a consistent flow of new customers.

That being said, being great at customer service doesn’t just happen. It takes an intense focus on staff management, training and education to ensure your team is equipped with the skills and knowledge to exceed customer expectations and create an environment they love. Also, your customers need to feel like your teahouse was made just for them.

Consider using the following three strategies to elevate customer service in your teahouse (or tea shop or tea café) and ensure an unforgettable experience for everyone who visits your business.

1. Define Your Customer Service Standards

You want your staff to behave in certain ways to meet your and your customers' expectations for quality customer service. But have you clearly defined what those behaviors and customer service standards are?

Your staff can only provide the level of customer service you’ve defined for them. In other words, your employees will serve customers in the way that you tell them to. For example, an employee who’s new to working in your teahouse will probably not know the basics of tea, the different tea types, etc. If you don’t tell them and educate them, they’re left to guess, and that’ll likely lead to poor service and leave a bad taste in customers' mouths, impacting their experience. Of course, this might sound basic, but the importance of this can’t be stressed enough. Indeed, many service-oriented businesses neglect to properly train their staff on an ongoing basis, and it leads to issues and loss revenue.

On the other hand, if you’ve trained your new employee on tea in general, your menu and what’s special about it, as well as how to properly serve customers, then you should have a checklist or cheat sheet somewhere on-hand and behind the scenes. This will especially help a new employee get a handle on everything a lot faster, so they can focus on that high-level customer service, be able to answer questions about the tea menu, and deliver strong attention to detail.

Here are some simple things you can do (and you can add some of your own items to this list, of course). In the end, it’s about taking the time to clearly define the customer service standards in your teahouse by answering the following questions:

  • How should employees greet customers?
  • What does the “perfect” customer interaction look like?
  • How should employees handle challenging customers?
  • How will you maintain tranquility and culture in your teahouse?
  • How should employees handle customers when it’s busy?
  • How knowledgeable do you want your staff to be about your teas and other products?
  • What should staff do when they don’t know the answer to a customer question?

Remember: Five-star customer service starts with being clear about what that looks like in your teahouse.

2. Create a Training Program That Grows Customer-Centric Employees

So much of what your staff learns about how to provide customer service in your teahouse is done during onboarding and initial training. Indeed, comprehensive training helps optimize your workforce because your employees will be equipped with the skills needed to serve your customers efficiently and provide them with a memorable experience at your teahouse.

For example, let’s say your training program covers tea knowledge, customer service interaction skill-building, and conflict resolution courses. Armed with this information, employees will know how to have warm interactions with all kinds of customers. They’ll be able to answer questions about all things tea-related. They’ll also be able to adapt to tough customers and turn difficult situations into positive ones. All of these things can significantly help your employees do their jobs better and enhance customer service.

To create a training program that breeds customer-centric employees, you first need to determine what your staff needs to know to provide the level of customer service you’re looking for.

For instance, they’ll need to know how to effectively communicate with a range of customers. Understanding your menu, tea culture, how to take orders, and what “upselling” is would be helpful, too.

Then, flesh out how you’ll train your staff. Will you designate senior employees to train new employees? Will you hire certified trainers? Will you do all of your training on-site, online or a combination of both?

Also, think about how long initial training will last and when you’ll do periodic training sessions with your staff throughout the year.

Ultimately, your training program should be detailed enough to help employees meaningfully grow their customer service and other skills to be the best they can be for your customers.

3. Focus on Fostering Lasting Connections with Customers

You can offer the best teahouse experience someone has ever had. But, is it a one-off experience? Or, is it something customers can expect every time they come visit you no matter who they interact with on your staff?

The latter builds lasting connections with customers and that’s what you should focus on. It takes a continuous effort to improve the experience for your customers and get to the point where you know returning customers by name and can get their orders ready without them asking.

To promote loyal customer relationships, concentrate on tailoring each customer's experience to them. This means using their name if you know it, continuing the conversation from your last interaction, and suggesting new teas they might be interested in. Also, miscommunications, mistakes with orders and other issues will eventually happen with your staff and customer relationships. Make sure you (as the owner or operator), as well as your team members, are all ready to be proactive about these solving issues, so that your customers know they can count on you.

Finally, gather customer feedback relentlessly. Have paper surveys your customers can fill out after enjoying their tea and refreshments. If you have a loyalty program, text or email customer satisfaction surveys every time a customer checks in or makes a purchase. Pay attention to the conversations around your teahouse on social media and review sites as well.

Feedback straight from customers is the best kind because once you implement that feedback, you’re giving them what they want, fueling a positive experience with your tea house.

Customer Interactions Are Pivotal

In the end, customer interactions are pivotal at a teahouse, so be prepared to train staff at the onset and throughout the year. A teahouse is such an intimate, peaceful, cultural experience that rides on how personable and service-oriented your staff is. Also, it's important to remember that many of your customers are going to be tea enthusiasts, and they’re going to be excited about the experience, so make sure it’s a great one every time by properly training your staff. Start with the guidance above and grow a teahouse team that prides itself on top-tier customer service.

Indiana Lee is a freelance writer and occasional contributor to World Tea News, with a wealth of experience in blogging, content marketing and journalism. She writes on a variety of topics across industries, including tea, B2B issues and health and wellness.

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