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Friday, November 20, 2009

Score one for un-planning

I had my first taste of Chicago’s famous Manny’s Deli earlier this week. Proof positive that a service experience doesn’t have to be overly planned and positioned in order to be successful.

In simplest terms, if you know a customer you want to serve, create an experience they find compelling and execute consistently at a high level, people pay attention, and you will develop a following.

Manny’s provides high quality deli fare with deep Jewish roots in irreplicable atmosphere to the Chicago lunch crowd – from blue-collar to politico alike. If you don’t believe they are artisans, Google “Manny’s Deli” & see what comes up. From their website, “At Manny's you don't diet. You don't snack. You don't nosh. You come to this landmark lunchroom to pile your tray high and eat like there's no tomorrow.” They’ve been so focused on their target, it took more than 6 decades to open for dinner.

The bricks & mortar could be replicated. Melamine, formica and laminate aren’t hard to come by, even in 2009. But the atmosphere couldn’t be recreated anywhere. The staff (Manny’s is a 4th generation family business.) knows their clientele from decades of interactions. Even if you’re a newbie, they know why you’re there. The customer-to-customer interaction is great, everyone in a better mood because of where they’re eating.

It’s possible they’ve never had a planning session. Never touchpoint-mapped their customer experience, never ideated around core purpose and vision or what the organization needs to look like in 3-to-5 years.

Maybe they have by now. The website is professionally done, they’re active in social media, and they serve customer-fans by shipping nationwide. But they didn’t become a local and national landmark through countless hours spent in service development and market planning.

They did it though dedication to solid service fundamentals. Making a service promise that people found attractive, making the promise available, and delivering on it every day, for almost 70 years.

It’s that easy. And that difficult.

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