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Sunday, March 27, 2011

How much work would you ask your customers to do?

On a recent trip to see a good friend, he and I went to dinner at a steakhouse he was excited to show me. The source of his excitement was their unique take on meal preparation. He described a flat stone heated hot enough to cook on and brought, with my steak, to me for tableside grilling. The twist: I get to do the grilling myself, preparing my steak to my own desired doneness.

This didn’t seem like a terrific idea to me as a customer. I go to restaurants to have professionals – better cooks than I – prepare my food for me. That I was going to play a significant role in my own service experience while I knew there was someone more qualified and paid to do it standing through a set of double doors didn’t excite me.

Still, I’m always up for a new experience, and I trust my friend completely. (military basic training followed by 4 years of college together tend to do that) So, I mustered up some excitement to accompany the anxiety that came with the prospect of cooking my own tableside meal.

An immediate benefit of this format was that I got to see the main ingredient raw. You can’t hide bad product when the inputs are raw, and this steak was spectacular. I grew a little more excited.

As I started searing my steak, I began to see the participation benefit. Rather than a distracting hassle, the experience let my friend and I share an experience along with each others’ company.
The quality of the product, the way every other detail was taken care of and the result created accomplishment satisfaction that surpassed what consumption satisfaction would have provided.

Customer role is often overlooked in development of the service encounter. Most businesses fail to realize the potential of the service-producing capacity that also pays the bill, and how in some cases, getting a customer to do more work may actually increase their satisfaction with the encounter.

As you way how to include the customer in producing your performance, be strategic, but don’t overlook opportunities to push the boundaries of how you can apply their service capacity. Like a restaurant owner that says, “I know! Let’s get customers to cook their own meals!”

1 comment:

Barry Peters said...

Fondue has been popular for decades....