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Quality Baristas by Far the Biggest Driver of Customer Satisfaction

While it may seem painfully obvious to many coffee shop operators, friendly and knowledgeable staff is the biggest driver of customer satisfaction in specialty coffee retail. This important reminder comes from the second annual J.D. Power and Associates Specialty Coffee Retailer Satisfaction Report, released last week, which reviewed data from seven large retail brands.

coffee retail staff key to satisfaction

Photo by Chelsea Hicks

The report measures overall customer satisfaction with specialty coffee retailers by examining five key factors in order of importance. They are: staff (34%), merchandise (23%), cost (18%), facility (14%) and sales/promotions (11%). In 2013, overall satisfaction with specialty coffee retailers averages 810 points (on a 1,000-point scale), an increase of four points from 806 in 2012.

The report was based on interviews with 3,100 customers who purchased any product or beverage at a brick-and-mortar specialty coffee retailer in the 30 days prior to being surveyed. Brands included in this report have revenue that exceeds $35 million and have at least 100 locations.

“Staff friendliness and positive interaction with the customer are keys to achieving high levels of satisfaction,” Sally Lombardo, director of research operations at J.D. Power and Associates, said upon the report’s publication. “A specialty coffee retailer whose staff learns to master these skills may not only achieve high customer satisfaction, but also benefit from positive recommendations, customer loyalty and attachment to the brand.”

The report finds that customers spend an average of $7.31 per visit to a specialty coffee retailer. The average amount of time customers spend in the checkout line is 6.3 minutes.

Specialty Coffee Retailer Customer Satisfaction

Among the seven corporate brands included in the report, Dutch Bros. Coffee ranks highest in overall satisfaction for a second year, with a score of 824. Dutch Bros. also performs particularly well in the staff, sales/promotions and cost factors. Following Dutch Bros. Coffee in the rankings are Seattle’s Best Coffee (812) and Starbucks Coffee (811), both outperforming the industry average (810).

Customer Loyalty

Customer satisfaction with specialty coffee retailers may equate to customer loyalty, as 52 percent of highly satisfied customers say they “definitely will” recommend and “definitely will” repurchase their brand. In addition, 34 percent of highly satisfied customers indicate they are “highly” committed to their specialty coffee retailer brand.


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