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Monday, March 21, 2011

A performance diner misses a note.

Traveling through Ontario last week, I unexpectedly came across a new restaurant location of a burger joint that served as a hangout in college. While it wasn't the original location from my youth, my wife (who frequented the same place in her collegiate days) and I stoppped in for some nostalgia.

The original was a great old diner with a vintage feel. Great food. The experience was made more unique by their tendency to sing out the orders in unison as they were taken from the customer. It wasn’t a necessary component of the experience, but it was a unique touch and a differentiator for those who appreciated the kitsch of the physical environment.

Fast forward ten years, and my college hangout has been somewhat successful. They’ve expanded goegraphically, including the location we patronized.

The experience is designed to be the same, but in a small single location remote from the original business, it didn’t come off as consistent with the original. The retro restaurant layout was similar, and the food was still exceptional. But the performance component of the experience that involved singing was half-hearted at best, and sometimes abandoned entirely. My guess is that remote location employees, who had never seen the experience effect of the original but been coached to execute it, failed to see what that aspect of the experience added.

Consistency of the experience is tough to maintain as a business grows and control over how the service is executed gets more & more remote.

As the business grows, revisit the service experience from time to time to see what components still fit with the overall service vision, which don’t and which, while they may fit, have become too difficult to execute.

If this business had done so, rather than just stamping out copies of the original model and expecting them to work in alternate locations with different management and employees, it would have noted that the singing component of the experience wasn’t core, that it was increasingly difficult to execute consistently as the business grows.

Its true that every service encounter is a performance. But if your performance contains elements that are tough to execute and are not critical to the experience, consider editing the routine to place more emphasis on elements that will create an impact.

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