Becoming a customer again

December 29th, 2008

If there is one thing that people behind bars and counters are guilty of it is forgetting what it is like to be a customer. They develop and “us vs. them” mentality with their own customer base.

To give an example of this in effect I want to talk about how many businesses react to having a fairly large queue. As they try and produce more drinks quickly things tend to go downhill – shot times start to drop, drink quality slides and overall service isn’t what it needs to be. To them the most important part of your experience is that you don’t queue for too long.

Now if they only put themselves at the back of their own queue. If they waited with everyone else until they got to the front and then you asked them: Would you like me to rush your drink or would you rather I did it properly? Which of these would justify the time you spent waiting? Which would encourage you to come tomorrow and wait in the queue again?

Rushing out drinks just doesn’t make sense. Why expose the most possible people to anything other than your best possible product? Cutting corners when you are busy is simply unacceptable if you are planning on building a loyal customer base.

Going back to being in your own queue – what was it like to walk in and order? Was it obvious where to go? Whilst you were queuing were there things to tempt you? Were questions answered before you had to ask them? I know this is blindingly obvious stuff – yet countless businesses don’t get customer flow right, or merchandising and upselling.

This is hardly new thinking. In just about every episode of “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” Gordon makes the restaurateurs have a meal in their own restaurant and the experience is often shocking and deeply revelatory.

I can’t urge cafe owners enough to take 10 minutes out from behind the bar, and go and stand in the queue and experience what their customers experience every day. How long did it take for someone to acknowledge you? Are staff asking the right questions?

Would you visit every day if you didn’t own the place?

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