It’s the Experience

We live in a time period when we expect to be entertained at every moment.  It starts with our kids having multiple game systems, including portable systems that they can take with them in the car.  As adults, we just graduate to more sophisticated toys.

Even eating out can be viewed as a form of entertainment.  With limited financial resources, many families are becoming more selective with how they choose a restaurant.  Within 15 miles of my house there are over 100 restaurants, providing every possible choice of ethnic food and every brand of fast food.  For the most part, the quality of the food and the variety of menu items has improved substantially in the past 10 years.

pizzaSo what makes a hungry customer choose one restaurant over another?  It is all about the experience!  Just this past week, I had two examples of this concept.  Last week I was driving between appointments at the noon hour and was looking for a place for a quick lunch.  A friend of mine is responsible for a large chain of sandwich restaurants.  My eyes caught the sign of one of these establishments, so I made a quick turn into the parking lot.

The concept was unique and the food was very tasty.  The physical layout of the sandwich shop was clever and the floor, tables, restrooms and counters were clean.  Will I go back again?  Probably not.

What was missing?  It was the overall experience.  The leadership and staff at this location need a class on how to engage their customers.  The person taking my order did not even look up from the cash resister.  The order was written down on a paper bag, so he did not have to interact with me.  I know it was busy, but it does not take but a few seconds to welcome each guest and determine if they have any questions.  The people making the sandwiches were obviously not having a great time.  Not one of them looked up and even smiled.  The person at the end of the line called my name when my order was complete.  Not once did anyone thank me for my business.

When I see an establishment like this, I immediately question the skill of the manager or owner.  It is their responsibility to set the overall tone for the guest and their employees.  It the leader in charge is not enjoying what they do, FIND ANOTHER JOB!  Life is too short to spend the majority of your waking hours doing something you can’t stand.  If you view what you do as just a job, you are missing the boat.

Customers may not put their finger on exactly why they are drawn to one location over another, but it is the overall experience and how they feel when they walk out the door that drives our future choices.  Any one who interacts with a customer is in the entertainment business.

Learn to put on a good show.  Your future depends on it!

The value of first impressions.

“You only have one opportunity to make a first impression!”  That may seem obvious, but behind this simple quote is a very important key to the long term success of any business.

A restaurant, grocery store, entertainment venue, or retail store can only survive a short time on business provided by first time customers.  We just had a new Pizza restaurant open in our neighborhood in Frisco.  It is called “Palios” and they make a great pizza.  We watched the construction and anticipated the grand opening, taking some friends there the first weekend.  We were not alone!  They were busy.  The service was excellent and the food outstanding.  We have recommended Palios to several of our friends and have been back there twice in the past month.

Would be have gone back or recommended this restaurant if our first impression had not been positive?  Of course not.

There is a grocery store in our neighborhood that recently announced they were closing.  They have only been open for six years.  Recently, they have placed a lot of attention on customer service, and it shows in their employees and how they treat their customers.  So why are they closing?  They were SO BAD in customer service for their first five years that many of the local residents gave up on them and starting shopping elsewhere.

An initial bad experience is all it takes for some people to move their business.  A few people will give an establishment several chances, but eventually if the service continues to stink, they also will take their business to a competitor that truly demonstrates that they appreciate you and the money you spend with them.

If you are preparing to open a store, restaurant, or other establishment that interacts with customers, make sure you are ready!  You are better off delaying an opening until you have your duck in a row and can impress your first time customers.

A great first impression will result in repeat business!

Customer Centered Consulting Group was formed in 1999 with the mission of helping individuals and organizations reach their potential.  This is done by coaching clients to create effective work processes that are executed with world class customer service by teams who enjoy working together and are led by servant leaders.

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