Send your customers away

There is a coffee shop in London where the owner sends his customers away, into the arms of his competitors. He does this knowing they’ll come back. And when they come back, they’ll probably be more loyal to his coffee shop.

His strategy is surprising but simple. He wants his customers to understand his product. He wants them to know what is available in their market, the good, the bad and the ugly. The more they sample other coffee shops, the more they will develop their own taste in coffee, the beverage and in coffee, the  experience.

He does this for two reasons.

One is he’s a champion barista. He is an acknowledged expert at making coffee. Being an expert means he knows what good coffee is all about. So he’s confident he can compete with anyone on the quality of his product.

But he also does this to engage his customers. He wants them to have an amazing experience in his coffee shop. And they can do that better if they experience more than just his shop. This gives them a frame of reference. It gives them something to compare and contrast against his coffee.

It also starts conversations.

By giving his customers a good reason (free coffee) to sample his competitors and then return to his shop, he is setting the stage for lively and interesting conversations with them. He gets his customers talking with him about something they both enjoy. He creates an experience that goes well beyond a tasty cup of java.

His customers learn more about coffee, helping them discover and refine their preferences. He learns more about them and what they want in their coffee drinking experience. They both win.

How could you engage your customers like this? What might you do to help them be smarter consumers of your product or service while you learn more about what they want?

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz