In a departure from its traditional “Employee of the Week” recognition, A.J.’s Café has begun featuring employees’ favorite customers as “Customer of the Week.”
The café now rewards customers with a sign and a compliment above the ice cream station. The new addition encourages a more lively work atmosphere and better communication with customers, Student Manager senior Anna Goodwin said. In addition, A.J.’s has a limited amount of employees to recognize, which contributed to the decision to branch out to customers.
“We thought it would be a nice change to engage the employees in something that they choose,” Goodwin said. “We work at a college campus. Interactions with customers are not going to be like in a normal coffee shop in a big city. I think that’s why people like working at A.J.’s so much, because they get to serve their friends, and that makes for a better interaction.”
Employees nominate customers in a private Facebook group for A.J.’s staff members. The customer of the week is then chosen from the nominations via a random number generator.
The winner gets bragging rights.
“They get a sign,” Goodwin said. “Their face is seen by the rest of campus — so people will finally know they’re not just some terrible person. And they get to show their friends.”
Sophomore Joshua Pradko was recently the customer of the week. He was nominated by senior Matthew Katz. When Katz accidentally knocked over the tea bins twice while closing the coffee shop, Pradko helped pick them up.
“I nominated him, because he’s just one of those people who always makes you happy,” Katz said. “He’s always a burst of positive energy.”
Pradko was appreciative of the recognition.
“It’s certainly a tremendous honor,” he said.
Katz praised the customer of the week feature.
“I think it gives customers an incentive to be patient with us,” he said. “And it’s nice to acknowledge people who go out of their way to make our day better, too.”
Goodwin offered advice for any customer who wants the honor.
“I’m really sassy, so whoever can keep up is usually my favorite kind of customer,” she said. “And you always have those customers who understand and respect the fact that you’re doing your best in rushes.”
Pradko reiterated the importance of politeness: “Being really nice to the employees will probably help.”