Rook Coffee Customer Service

Rook Coffee Spills the Beans on Customer Service

The Monmouth University Office of Student Employment hosted a presentation and panel discussion on customer service on Oct. 25, featuring co-founder and co-CEO of Rook Coffee, Holly Migliaccio.

The event was free for all University students and employees. Among the guest speakers were Migliaccio, and Andrea Pappas, the Director of Recruitment and Culture of Rook Coffee. Additional speakers from the Leon Hess Business School included specialist professor John Buzza, Nicki Kelly, the administrator of the University’s MBA program, and associate Professor Eugene Simko.

“Part of our mission in Student Employment is to organize professional development workshops and events that provide our students with the information and skills that directly impact their performance here and careers after Monmouth,” said Administrator of Student Employment, Raul Arlequin, who felt that having Migliaccio speak at the event was a no-brainer.

 “For this discussion, we thought it would be nice to get an external perspective,” Arlequin explained. “We wanted someone from an organization that our students were familiar with but [who] also understands the value of good customer service and its effect on business. Someone that knows that ‘customer experience’ is just as important as the product itself, but more importantly understands that company culture has a direct relationship with the level of customer service delivered to the customer.”

Throughout the panel discussion, which was moderated by Buzza, the focus was on customer service and the importance of it in a business’ success as well as in one’s personal development.

Simko believes that there is really no such thing as a department of customer service. He explained, “There is no such thing as an organizational structure, an office of customer service. It’s a philosophy. It’s a philosophy that’s got to seep into the DNA of every organization, profit or nonprofit service, public, private… It’s something that forms the foundation of not only establishing a brand, but what they [customers] think of what we [service providers] do, and what they think of our product.”

“Good customer service cannot be manufactured, it all starts with the individual’s personality,” said Migliaccio.

Pappas, whose job revolves around hiring employees that are up to Rook’s customer service standards, does not believe that one can manufacture customer service.

“We can teach anyone to brew a cup of coffee, but you can’t teach nice, you can’t teach genuine, and you can’t teach wanting to talk to people and engage,” she explained. “And the ones who fake it – they don’t last.”

To Buzza, good customer service all comes down to interpersonal skills. “Forget race, forget religion, forget age, forget all those biases, it’s just about the ability to get along with other people,” he said.

 “It really does come from the personality, more than anything to get superb, really over-the-top customer service,” agreed Kelly.

 “You’re as good as your last interaction with a customer,” said Simko.

Arlequin agrees that good customer service breeds good customer experience.

“From leaving the corporate world during the most turbulent economic period in our nation’s history since the Great Depression, to opening their first coffee shop in Oakhurst, NJ, Holly and Shawn Kingsley [Co-CEO and Co-founder of Rook] knew it was going to take more than just selling good coffee to be successful, they had to offer a great experience,” said Arlequin.

Another key topic discussed by the panel was how a company’s structure plays an integral role in their success or failure. Simko stressed the importance of effective leadership and communications within the workplace.

 “99 percent of all problems I’ve seen in the field come from a breakdown in communication, it all gets back to communications and leadership style,” explained Simko. “Gone are the days of autocratic leadership, teams are here to stay…The best leaders, the best managers, create an environment where there’s less of a dependence and reliance upon the organization to take advantage of hierarchies or chains of command, or titles and bosses and followers and leaders, and more so on teams.”

As a business owner, Migliaccio believes that an emphasis on teamwork has formed much of the foundation of Rook’s ongoing success.

“This past month, Shawn and I left the country for ten days and [Rook Coffee] ran like clockwork. And that’s the way it should be, it just makes sense,” Migliaccio said.

The event was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. According to Arlequin, it was the largest turn-out for any professional development event hosted by Student Employment, with a total of 74 attendees.

Carissa Clarke, a junior business administration student, felt that the event was very worthwhile.

“As a business major here at Monmouth University, I found yesterday’s event to be very inspiring,” Clarke said.

“During Holly Migliaccio’s presentation she explained how she left her corporate sales job and took the risk of opening her own business. For her, the risk was worth it because it has grown into the successful coffee shop known as Rook Coffee with ten locations throughout Monmouth County. This goes to show that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you must be willing to take on risk and uncertainty and that if you work hard enough toward your goal, so much is possible,” Clarked added.

IMAGE TAKEN FROM La Magra Consulting