February 12 2015 3:36 PM
On the counter at Munson's coffee shop, in amongst the pastries, the pannetone boxes and the pots of apple and ginger porridge there is a sign that reminds you how customer service should be.
It says: "We do coffee. We do milk. We don't do decaf. We are Munson's."
I asked the girl behind the counter. "Some people don't like it, but they never come back", she confirmed cheerily.
I also noted that this apparent reluctance to accommodate customer needs extended to the till, where another note informed me that they don't take credit cards, adding helpfully that there is a cashpoint 50 yeards down the road.
So – as marketers – do we think they've got it right? I do.
Within 5 minutes' walk of Munson's there are at least 20 other coffee shops. In each of these, baristas will fall over themselves to do your coffee the way you want it: frothy, wet, skinny, nutmeg, extra hot, extra milky, whatever. In Starbucks, they even insist on (mis)spelling your name on the cup, just to emphasise how heavily personalised the service is.
Munson's does offer a range. But they decide where that range starts and stops. And it doesn't include decaf. And that makes Munson's different.
And somehow it seems right for Munson's to say that. It's a quirky place, but wonderfully individual. People go there because it is different, and being different (in this case) is more important than offering what the customer wants.
And so we come to the B2B marketing parallel (this is a marketing blog, not a Sunday supplement). How distinctive are you? Are you daring enough to risk deflecting – even offending – some people in order to make your brand preferable to your real target audience? Would it help? Or is it better to try and keep everyone happy? Is it better to have lots of indifferent customers or a smaller number of loyal ones?
Other coffee shops are so numerous you sometimes wonder how they turn a profit. Yet the notoriously inflexible Munson's stays busy.