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Monday, October 24, 2011

The restaurant that never brings me what I order.

My wife & I frequent a sushi restaurant we’d both describe as our favorite. Having lives and travelled the Pacific Rim, it’s not the best sushi we’ve ever had – but for Kansas, it’s very good.

What makes us to choose their experience over competing experiences: since we’ve been going there, they have never brought us what we’ve ordered.

Sure, they take our order and bring us the appetizers, rolls, entrees and desserts we’ve asked for.

But as long as we’ve been going there, we have yet to have a meal that didn’t include an extra added in. Always free of charge, and usually something that isn’t on the menu that they bring over and ask us to try.

Some are terrific, while others are misses. (Japanese-Mexican fusion inspired tempura-battered green beans are a product innovation that should not have “left the garage”.)

Stan Phelps and the Purple Goldfish project call this lagniappe, associating the Cajun expression for giving a little extra to a great service business practice that delights customers. It is that – they give us more than we’ve asked for, exceeding both our expected and requested service experience – but it’s also more.

A few of the items that we’ve tried have ended up on the menu. We’ve had prolonged engagements with staff, talking about a dish and what might make it better. That they include us in new product development makes us feel like partners, invested in the success of their menu and their restaurant.

It took time – months, years – to develop a bond this deep. But consider the sushi joint down the street that instead of investing time & effort, offers up a frequent diners card to tie their customers to them. Their main business line has its margin voluntarily eroded by a program that doesn’t make a customer choose them any more or less than the other purchase frequency programs they use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Great post on your customer experience with the so-so (but good in Kansas) sushi joint. As a customer I've always felt much more appreciated when a little extra is put into the service. Even if it's tiny, it's the thought that counts.

You've got great content on this blog, I was wondering if you'd be interested in sharing your articles with other like-minded customer engagement professionals? I am starting a loyalty and rewards community and would love to have you join!

You can send me an email to summerluu@atomicreach.com for more details. Hope to hear from you soon!