Know What Your Customers Want

As a frequent business traveler and someone who works on the go, I am constantly looking for three things:

  1. A warm, friendly, inviting environment to work
  2. Good coffee (and goodies)
  3. Free wi-fi

Back in the B.W. days (Before Wi-fi) I just needed the first two. I remember going into Barnes & Noble one afternoon. It was the perfect place. Good atmosphere. Nice tables to sit and work. Good books to peruse if I needed a break. Starbuck’s coffee. BINGO! I grabbed a cup of coffee, opened my laptop, plugged in, and started working away. After about ten minutes the store manager, an older woman whose countenance could curdle milk came by and demanded I unplug my lap top. "We’re not paying for your electricity!" she stated. I unplugged, packed up and walked out. I rarely, if ever, go back. They clearly don’t know and don’t care about what I need and the message to me was clear – "we don’t want you here."

I contrast that with the Panera I’m sitting at as I write this post. Warm environment, great coffee, great bagels, lots of people enjoying themselves, lots of outlets and free wi-fi. Now when I travel, I check the web to see where I can find Panera locations on my route.

Maybe Barnes & Noble has wi-fi too. I wouldn’t know. I never went back.

See you at Panera.

Related Posts:
The Conversation’s at West Des Moines Panera
Lower Prices Isn’t Always What Customers Want

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  4 comments for “Know What Your Customers Want

  1. July 13, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    oh my god oh my god. you are me. truly, when i’m traveling, it’s all about the coffee and the wi-fi. (except that i’ve given up coffee as of a week ago. sigh.) i, too, gave up on b&n. (their sbux isn’t as good anyway.) but i do love sitting in the comfy couches (lots of stores have done away with those as well) and reading on my nights off. anyway, i’m with you on the lame-osity of that manager. what a HUGE mistake. panera is good. but not so much on the food there!

  2. July 13, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    You’re right about the B&N sbux, Christine. At Panera I stick with what works: cinnamon crunch bagels, ceasar salads and I the occasional pannini sandwiches šŸ™‚

  3. July 14, 2006 at 12:53 am

    When my husband goes to coffee shops to work, he (like you) looks for free wi-fi. Fortunately, in Austin, Texas (being a big high-tech town) almost any place that sells coffee has free access. Yes, I said ALMOST any place –Starbucks requires that you pay for an account to access their wi-fi, and that means they get less business from my husband.
    Personally, I usually go to Starbucks more for socializing than working, so I’m a little more forgiving. But if they start charging for napkins, I’m out of there! : )

  4. July 14, 2006 at 6:21 am

    I’m with you, Cuileann. If I’m going to socialize, I love heading to Starbucks. I wonder if they realize how much business they lose because they don’t have free wi-fi?
    Charge for napkins? May it never be! šŸ™‚

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