A Survey of Customers and Employees and the Social Aspect of Coffee Shops

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Chapter 03

The survey of customers and employees and the social aspect of coffee shops

  1. Questionnaire related to coffee shop employees
  1. Please provide your name, age and residence.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….....

  1. What’s the opening and closing time of the shop?
  • Opening time : ……………………………………
  • Closing time : ……………………………………
  1. What’s the most busy time period of the shop? ………………………………………………………………………….
  1. How do you think your coffee shop mostly differs from other coffee shops?
  • By service
  • By food
  • By the ambience
  • By the price
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Are their regular customers visiting your shop?

Yes No

  1. If so, do they have a seating area where they ‘usually’ seat?

Yes No

  1. What types of customers usually visit here? (Please classify the type of customers)

ex: (put a tick)

0-10%

10-50%

30-50%

50-80%

More than 80%

Local

Or (write the percentage)

0-10%

10-50%

30-50%

50-80%

More than 80%

Local

75%

0-10%

10-30%

30-50%

50-80%

More than 80%

Local

Foreign

Couples

Families

Teenagers

Businessmen

Individuals

Other groups

  1. How long these customers usually stay?
  • About 30 minutes
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • About 1 hour
  • More than 1 hour
  • It depends
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What do you think about the price of products you offer in the coffee shop?
  • It’s reasonable
  • It’s too expensive
  • Price could be lower
  • It’s not expensive
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Most of these coffee shops are saturated around Colombo, what do you think is the reason for that?
  • Because of the culture
  • Because there’s a higher disposable income in Colombo
  • Because the target ‘market’ for coffee shops is Colombo
  • Because in Colombo, it’s hard to find a proper private meeting place
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Questionnaire related to coffee shop customers
  1. Please provide your name, age and residence.

Ex: Ruwan / 26 / Dehiwala

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….....

  1. How often do you visit this coffee shop or any other coffee shop?

This coffee shop

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Once a month
  • Occasionally

Other …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. How long do you usually stay in a coffee shop?
  • About 30 minutes
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • About 1 hour
  • More than 1 hour
  • It depends
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What type of people do you usually accompany with in the coffee shop?
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Girlfriend/ boyfriend
  • Business colleagues
  • No one
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. From where do you usually take your meal?

Coffee shop

Restaurant

Canteen

Home

Other

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

  1. What do you mostly like about this coffee shop?
  • Food & beverages
  • Service
  • Free WIFI
  • Ambience
  • Space and privacy
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What is your favorite coffee shop? …………………………………………………………

Why you like it?

  • It has better service
  • It has really good food
  • I have shared good memories in it
  • It has more space and privacy
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What do you think about the price of these products?
  • Expensive
  • Too expensive
  • Not expensive
  • Reasonable
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What’s your general idea about the coffee shop dispersal around Sri Lanka?
  • They should only be limited to Colombo
  • They should disperse to other regions as well
  • Coffee shops already have a fair growth around the country
  • There should be more coffee shops in Colombo
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What are the improvements you suggest for coffee shops in general?
  • The standard of food and beverages should be improved
  • There should be more publicity
  • There should be more interior space and parking space
  • The building should have more attention
  • Coffee shops should be adapted to our traditional food and beverages
  • Other

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  1. Summary of the questionnaire

This survey was conducted in the above mentioned (in chapter 2) coffee shops taken as case studies and also by an online questionnaire regarding general ideas that usual coffee shop customers have. The summery of the questionnaire is as follows.

Proximity

The people (customers) who live in the same areas of a coffee shop seemed to visit them more regularly and regardless of the proximity some customers seem to visit the coffee shop they preferred the most even weekly.

Majority of the customers also seemed to be visiting coffee shops occasionally.

Behavior of customers

Most of the customers in these coffee shops seem to be associating with at least one person and the individuals seemed to be visiting the coffee shop to do some particular work of study or other.

In general, the majority of local customers are higher (more than 50%) than foreign customers in these coffee shops.

Regular life and coffee shops

When considering about the regular pattern of taking meals, most customers don’t always take their breakfast, lunch or dinner at coffee shops. The minority of them has the habit of taking at least (mostly dinner) one meal from the coffee shops more frequently.

Services and other facilities

Most of the customers suggested that there should be more interior and parking facilities in these coffee shops. Some also claimed that the service and the quality of food should be improved.

Personal opinion

Regarding the personal opinion about coffee shops dispersal in Sri Lanka, most of the customers showed positive replies towards its further improvement in most other regions as well. As per the price of the products, most of the customers claimed that the price is expensive and the monopoly of the coffee shops should be controlled by its further developments.

  1. The social aspect of coffee shops

Results from the coding and analysis of the interviews, survey data, and observations resulted in the emergence of six categories regarding the social aspect of the coffee shop. These themes include the opportunity to linger; ownership and territoriality; trust, respect and anonymity; productivity and opportunity to socialize and support. These themes are discussed in detail below.

  1. Opportunity to linger

One obvious, but key element in the social atmosphere of the coffee shop is the opportunity to linger. Unlike a restaurant where a bill is presented at the end of a meal, once a beverage has been purchased in a coffee shop, the customers are typically welcome to stay as long as they like. The regulars who come in frequently, and linger, influence much of the social climate of the coffee shop.

Although much of the motivation for lingering may be influenced by the attitude of the management, friendliness of the staff and patrons, and other social characteristics, there are physical characteristics that contribute to lingering behavior.

Comfortable seating, seating that can easily be moved to accommodate conversations or groups, adequate lighting to read and communicate with others, and pleasant ambient conditions including acoustics, music, aroma, and views all contribute to lingering and length of time spent in the coffee shop.

  1. Feeling of ownership and territorialize

The customers who participated in this study felt a sense of ownership, sometimes even to the point of entitlement, in the coffee shops they frequented.

They had strong preferences for their chosen shop, opinions on how the shop should be run.

In addition to the sense of ownership, these people also exhibited territorial feelings toward various areas within the coffee shop, such as a favorite seat or place at the bar. One definition of territoriality is “the relationship between an individual or group and a particular setting that is characterized by a feeling of possessiveness and by attempts to control the appearance and use of space” (Bower, 1980, p.180). During interviews, it was clarified that most of these customers had a favourite seat.

To secure these favorite seats, territorial behavior was exhibited in all of the coffee shop through the use of body language as well as the placement of belongings. Customers marked their territories with books, backpacks, and other personal items to let others know they had claimed the seat.

  1. Trust, respect and anonymity

When a climate of trust is established, people feel welcome and able to be themselves. That could be a motivation for selecting a regular coffee shop for any customer.

Another intriguing aspect of the coffee shop is the opportunity for anonymity. The coffee shop is not home or the office, where roles and relationships are clearly established. The coffee shop allows people to start anew or to portray themselves as someone other than who they currently are.

  1. Productivity

Many patrons responded that the coffee shop is a place they went if they wanted to feel productive. For many students, the coffee shop is an alternative to the library. During an interview with group of students in a private institute, they expressed a strong preference for the coffee shop over the library. They also stated that they have the ability to drink coffee, having group discussions, people-watch, take a break and have a conversation, listen to music, and just avoid what they perceived as a sterile library atmosphere. Mostly for professionals, the coffee shop was a place to meet for business or to get a particular task accomplished. Interviews revealed that working in the coffee shop often allowed these professionals to focus on a specific project without the distractions that would be found at home or the office. The coffee shops were also popular with teens doing homework or talking with friends.

Causal conversations with the teens revealed they enjoy drinking coffee because it made them feel grown up, and gave them the opportunity to go somewhere other than a home to get together. They are out of the sight of parents and feel a greater sense of autonomy.

  1. Opportunity to socialize and support

The underlying concept behind the ‘social beings and familiar strangers’ is that a person’s presence in the coffee shop somehow validates or confirms their existence as a social member of the community. Many customers came to the coffee shops in groups, to meet friends, or spend lengthy time interacting with the staff. For them, the social atmosphere of the coffee shops was very important and they sought out conversation and interaction. For others, there was value in a daily routine that has a social component.

Many designers feel responsible, when designing restaurants, bars, or coffee shops, for creating spaces that facilitate social interaction. However, although designing for sociability is important, designers should also note that findings from this study indicated that not all customers in the three coffee shops chose to interact, yet many received the benefits that one would expect from a social experience. For these patrons, the outing to the coffee shop was more about being in the presence of familiar strangers and mostly being focused on their study or any particular home work.

For many people, the coffee shop provides a place with a supportive group of acquaintances that enhances their overall well-being. Part of the social climate of the coffee shop is the support provided by the staff to other staff, the staff to the customers, and the customers to each other. Whether it is the opportunity for friendship formation and conversation, the ability to converse with someone in a similar situation or with a similar interest, or the opportunity to be alone in the company of others, the coffee shop can fill various needs for people.

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