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  • Nishchay Nath

Explaining my insane obsession with Corridor Seven Coffee Roasters (2/n)

I remember this one time when I flew back to Nagpur for vacation and headed straight to Corridor Seven from the airport. Later that night, my parents were debating my motives for coming home. Was I homesick? Yes. But what do I now consider home? (I'm gonna leave this here)

Every trip to Corridor Seven starts like this:

  1. Contemplate whether going to a cafe in the busiest of markets in Nagpur is worth the effort (also, will I get parking?)

  2. Reach Mahajan market. Park vehicle. Tell the parking guy that you'll pay him on your way back

  3. Tread through a shady pathway which leads you to a series of small shops but then you suddenly need to take a left u-turn

  4. There it is! (greetings and what's new on the menu via a handwritten board - which I would've already seen via their Instagram stories)

  5. You push open the door and enter this magical space; heavy rush in the middle of a working day, no seats available and an amazing rush of coffee aroma

But one thing that happens distinctly here is that the team greets you. Normal right? I don't think so. Karan greets me with an "Aur bhai kaisa hai?", Muthu with a "Bade din bad?" (kal hi aaya tha), Mithilesh with a wave, Mukesh-ji with his 100W smile, Nishee with a "What's up NishCafe?" and so on. It's endless.

But did you notice something?

I know their names.

Every single one of them.

Corridor Seven is not just great coffee, it's an experience. And they use their people as the central element effectively to control this experience and deliver something unmatchable. Since there are several moving parts in this game of intangibles, being able to dissect and frame how Corridor Seven has created this moat via its team was a bit challenging. Not impossible.

Enter F.I.R.E.F.L.Y.*

Engagements are a critical piece in a consumer's journey and F.I.R.E.F.L.Y. is a reductive way to look at what Corridor Seven has done.

  1. Flex - The ability to grab attention via showcasing expertise is a modern way to look at flex. Corridor Seven does that effectively in coffee by being one of the first to source Riverdale or host Toby Smith in India at their cafe. Even outside of coffee, they've cultivated in-house talent targeting food, drinks and community with examples such as workshops on choux pastry, exhibiting the theatrics of a bartender, launching drinks with infused charcoal, coffee cocktails and much more. Weird flex. But makes worthy Instagram stories and gives them business.

  2. Impress - The ability to deliver much more what they promise impresses customers. Service has been a key element behind their bean sales as well as cafe sales. A simple yet powerful consultative approach allows them to connect with each customer. They take it to the next level by educating the customer about their coffees and what goes on behind the scenes. This investment of time and effort creates an obligation in the minds of the customer, eventually leading to increased loyalty levels.

  3. Rapport - The ability to create a connect with the customer is key to building rapport. Social causes and community events become that common ground to explore. Such events have an element of virtue signaling associated with it and such initiatives can be seen as strategic to tap into the behavioral patterns of the customer. This helps build an image of a socially conscious brand, thereby strengthening this relationship between Corridor Seven and the customer.

  4. Engage - The ability to keep people's attention is engagement. A key way to engage people is by solving pain points and reduce friction. The team takes bean orders on call and will also recommend coffees which are not available on their website. They will recommend food pairings in situations where you want to make sure nothing goes wrong (e.g. you don't want to look stupid if you happen to take your date there). In a word, the team is "dependable" and will always be on the lookout. There is no better way to organically increase engagement levels.

  5. Flow - The ability to address the needs of a customer and do it seamlessly is the flow of service excellence. They not only have several online and offline touchpoints but ensure that responses are within minutes. Someone is always manning their social media accounts as well as their contact numbers, with 2 people sharing the responsibility of managing a single channel. While this is an element which seems like an expense, the opportunity costs associated with a single painful experience make this a worthy investment.

  6. Leverage - The ability to convert an objection into an opportunity is leverage. Now this objection may or may not lie within the ambit of their cafe business. For example: I happened to mess up my electric grinder this one time. Karan got on call and explained to me in detail how to go about solving it. It took me a couple of hours to fix it myself but he was available on chat and call all the time. That is their leverage to securing my loyalty.

  7. Yield - The ability to identify what you need and be able to close that sale is yield. There has to be a win-win to realise yield. What the team simply does is remember what you like. You step into the cafe and your order will not be taken, only confirmed. That is an intangible which has to be nurtured, not bought.

To be clear, I am not sure if this is deliberate. It may all be a lucky accident for them to be able to pull this off. I am not even sure that if you deliberately try to do something like this will help you be successful. Probably the willpower paradox plays a heavy role here. But it does help to rationalise the whats and the whys in a successful business model.

Hopefully, by now you can start seeing the picture that I am painting. But it's not complete.

There is more. Soon.

* Sourced from F.I.R.E.F.L.Y. Consultative Engagement by Regina Chua, DD Consulting Pte

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