Street Vendor Customer Service

I've gotten into a routine of buying coffee and bananas every morning. I get off the F train at 23rd street, head north 2 blocks and get a large coffee from a coffee truck and 3 bananas from the neighboring fruit stand.

These stands are your typical for NYC -- one guy (ostensible the owner) working alone selling a narrow range of culinary products. What impressed me about them both are the little things they do to make my experience special.

Lets start with the coffee truck. The "Hello. How are you this morning" I get every day is the happiest and most genuine hello I get all week. There's a big smile on his face and his enthusiasm is palpable. To top that off, he has my order memorized. Yes, its just a large black coffee -- the easiest order to remember -- but still, he's put in the effort to remember it and starts preparing it before I even get to the front of a line.

Next door, the man who runs the fruit stand throws in a free banana once a twice or week. Given that the normal price is 3 for $1 (expensive as far as fruit stands go), upping that to 4 for $1 is a nice, unexpected and non-necessary, surprise. Even more, he somehow manages to always do it on the days that I'm in a bad mood -- always puts a smile on my face.

Both guys are running their own business and are doing the little things to make their customers come back. It reminds me of a quote from the founder of Slack, Stewart Butterfield:

"Every customer interaction is a marketing opportunity. If you go above and beyond on the customer service side, people are much more likely to recommend you."

Good principles to live by, whether you're running a street cart, a billion dollar company, or an early ad-tech company.

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Hi, I’m Ron Jacobson. I'm the CEO of Rockerbox, lifelong fan of the Spurs, Startups, Israel and Tomatoes. Follow me at @rjjacobson

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