My family and I recently went for dinner in town. We moved into the area about 2 months ago, but this was our first chance to explore the local food joints.
A particular place looks stunning from the outside—fairy lights on the deck, big green trees arching over the deck for shade. Driving past at night makes me want to sit there.
So when my husband called on Friday afternoon and said, ‘we’re dining out’, I thought it would be the perfect place.
I jumped online, made a reservation and got the kids showered and ready. Then, my turn, shower, do hair and makeup, get dressed and get ready to go!
We arrived, and upon entry, no one greeted us;
Okay so we’ll just mosey on in and see if we can find someone to seat us…
Ah, the order computer has someone; perhaps they can help…
We are greeted by what I assume is the manager; she had no idea we had made a reservation. (Strike one for me).
The weather seems pleasant enough, so we decide to sit outside under the big tree. The tables outside had not been prepared for the evening shift, and chairs, tables, and cushions were dusty. (Strike 2 for me).
The menu reads “Mediterranean and Indian cuisine “. Sounds yum! We all make our selection; now what? Is this one of those places where you place your order at the counter, or does the waiter take your order? Unclear… as we get up to place our order at the counter, a young lady appears to take our order. Fantastic!
The drinks start arriving… one….at…a…time…
What? Surely you wait for all the drinks and then serve them, together, right?
After some chit-chat, the meals start arriving…one…at….a..time….. the first meal is getting cold, and by the way, it was not the kids’ meal that came first.
I ordered king prawns, and I envisioned grilled king prawns, and I got prawn curry.?
Okay, so what will we use to eat this unexpected meal?
No cutlery and no server. Yikes.
Another couple joins us outside; their table is cleaned before they sit, and while they decide on drinks, the waiter gets the cutlery; they are getting a very different experience from us. The worst is that we can SEE how different their experience is!
The food leaves much to be desired, the overall experience even more so!
Here’s the thing, generally inconsistent experiences negatively affect customer loyalty, trust and advocacy. That is when the same person gets a different experience from the same place at other times.
When your customer SEES a different experience, and the other is less than what is considered normal, that will create a problem for you. The manager was living her best life; she thought she was my people (since we are both from South Africa) but didn’t think to check in on the table during the meal, nor did she Manage her team or the experience.
The overall experience at this place left much to be desired. To add insult to injury, I received an email a few days later, their attempt at getting customer feedback. The email read, “Thanks for dining with us the other day; we really hope you enjoyed it. Please call us if you have any feedback or want to make another booking.”
That is NOT how you ask for feedback!
Your customer doesn’t want to phone you to give you feedback; who has time for that?! I made a reservation the last time, and that meant nothing, so, I won’t be bothering with that again.
Generally speaking, we won’t complain; we vote with our feet. And we tell our friends. Not only will this place not get our business again, but they will also not get our friends’ business. Since the customer listening path ( the email asking us to call to give them feedback) doesn’t work, they will never know what went wrong, so they will not know what to fix.
I honestly believe that delivering a consistent, conscious experience is your competitive advantage. When your customers know what they are getting when they choose you, and you are consistent ( and add some surprise and delight), they will not only buy more from you, but they will choose you every time and tell their friends to choose you.
Inconsistent experience creates uncertainty for your customers; if your experience is like a “lucky dip”, you’ll find people don’t want to come to you. So let’s be honest; we all like certainty, especially regarding things we spend money on.
As a business owner, if you’re looking to increase your revenue and profit but don’t know how, start by delivering a consistent experience to everyone.
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