My favourite barista makes the best coffee in town

The other day I had been working intensely to deliver some work to a client.

It was mid-afternoon, I had a lot to do and I hadn’t taken a proper break all day. My head was full of wool and my eyes were popping out of my head from staring at the screen.

I was fading fast and I needed coffee. It was time to step out for a break. When I have a deadline it’s hard to drag myself away. But I made myself get up and take the lift to the ground floor.

I was in a hurry. Instead of heading to my usual place, I hopped across the road to a little hole-in-the-wall chocolatier. They sell coffee. I wanted a quick grab-and-go so I could get back to work.

I stood before a beautiful display of gourmet chocolates with my credit card ready. The counter clerk was serving a lady who was buying a selection of chocolates and… he didn’t seem to have noticed me.

That’s fine, I can wait. After all, I was the only other customer in the store. He won’t take long.

Still no recognition, even after the lady’s card payment failed. No “I’ll be with you shortly”, not even a nod or a smile to acknowledge that my needs will be met soon. And no eye contact.

I sighed.

I left the chocolatier and headed for my favourite barista. His shop is two blocks from my office building.

At least the walk would clear my head.

When I arrived, there were two customers ahead of me to be served and a few others who had already ordered. It didn’t matter.

“Hello, Alexandra! Fadi hailed as he put the right sized cup for me in his queue. He knows my order.

When it was my turn to pay, Fadi asked me where I was working these days. He knows I’m a contractor and I move from building to building fairly often. I eagerly tell him that I now have to walk two blocks for his coffee. He liked that, and so did the man standing next to me who also declared how far he comes for coffee!

So, my addiction to caffeine has taught me something valuable.

Fadi has maintained a relationship with me because he is immediately engaged with me, understands my needs and is always ready to help solve my problems. In other words, he sees me walk in the door, he knows my name and he’s ready to make me coffee!

The same lesson is true in your business analysis profession.

You rely on stakeholder input to be successful at your work. If you’re not successful in establishing a good relationship with your stakeholders, it is very difficult for you to achieve positive results for them. This is because you have to engage in their environment to understand their business so you can help them solve their problems.

They need to trust that they can take time out of their busy schedule and “walk two blocks” to have their needs met. This is a big deal. Your stakeholders are your very special and important group of people.

If I were to write a customer manifesto in Fadi’s words, it might look something like this.

  • Greet your customer when they enter
  • Know your customer’s name
  • Know your customer’s order
  • Ask them questions
  • Answer their questions
  • Let them know how long their order will take
  • Make great coffee
  • Say thank you

In other similar words, you should…

  • Acknowledge that your stakeholders have needs
  • Know who you are engaging with
  • Understand their problem
  • Ask them questions
  • Answer their questions
  • Manage expectations
  • Deliver
  • Say thank you

Even though I might actually find better coffee elsewhere, this is why Fadi is my favourite barista and makes the best coffee in town.

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