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I have been working in the service industry for as long as I can remember. I've served people coffee, waited on tables, made food behind the scenes, and I've even worked a little retail. I've seen the better ends of customer service, and some of the worse ends too. What I've learned over the years is that it's easy to teach an employee how to deal with customers in an appropriate matter, but some customers still need a little refresher course on how to handle themselves in public too. What I'd like to share with you today is my take on customer etiquette.

What customer etiquette boils down to is respect. As a customer, when you walk into an establishment you expect decent customer service. What is considered decent customer service? Attention to detail, knowledge of product, eagerness, and above all, respect. We strive to give you these things and all we ask of you, the customer, is a little respect in return. So today, I strive to teach all of us (because we're all customers somewhere) four places where we could all use a little improvement, or re-education, in customer etiquette. (These do refer more specifically to a coffeehouse or small food retail type of interaction, although I believe most of these points could be applied just about anywhere.)

1. Say hello. It's not difficult and it barely takes a second, but for some reason, plenty of people still forget this. I can't tell you how often a customer walks into the cafe and I greet them with a cheerful "Hello! How are you doing today?", expecting at least a smile in return, only to be run down with a hasty "I'll have _____, and I want it to go". On one occasion I even had a new customer question one of our regular customer as to why he greeted me with 'hello' - he asked him, "What, do you know her or something?" - of course the regular customer was puzzled and said "only by association", because he understands that when you walk into an establishment it is customary to greet the person(s) inside, regardless of whether or not you 'know' them.

2. Keep your cellphone conversation out of our interaction. Everyone has a cell phone these days, whether it be the newest iPhone or something much less fancy, there is no denying that we are all living in a wireless word. And yes, it's great that you can call your friends up while you're walking down the street and tell them all about the new coffee shop that just opened up, but please, don't have that conversation while I'm trying to interact with you. It's rude to me, and it's rude to the person you're on the phone with, and that's just too much disrespect all around, so while you're at the counter, please put your phone away.

3. Clean up after yourself. We try our hardest to make you feel at home while you're in the store, but please don't make yourself too comfortable. Remember to keep your feet off the seats, put your dirty dishes in the bus tub and your used napkins in the trashcan, and if you make a spill - let us know so we can clean it up immediately! We know you wouldn't appreciate walking into a dirty store, so we invite you to lend us a hand in keeping it clean so that we can focus on the rest. It only takes an extra few seconds of your time, and it really does make a difference.

4. For the love of man, leave a tip. While this does fall under etiquette, everyone knows it's also pending on the situation. I'm not saying you should tip the guy at Wawa who hands you a cup of pre-brewed coffee and doesn't say anything more than the price, but I do believe you should always leave a tip if there is a tip jar and a moderate amount of interaction occurs. You don't even need to leave much - just dropping your change in there makes a difference too! Who really wants 48 cents jiggling around in their pocket anyway? A tip is just rewarding someone for a good service rendered - so tell me, is 48 cents really too much to give someone for a smile, a hand-poured cup of coffee, and a little conversation? Hell, I'll even throw a little love in there for free.

We are all in this world together, so lets lend each other a hand. Thank you!