Where is my gravy? Valuing the customer experience
By Tim McAdow
Where is my gravy? Seems like a simple question, right? The inspiration for this post comes courtesy of one of my neighbors. He stopped me on the street to say hello and then rolled into a story about a local restaurant that he had been visiting for 20 years. One day last week, he noticed that he was a bit short in the gravy department on his biscuits. He mentioned this to his waitress (also the owner of the establishment) and asked for a little bit more. Her response was, “gravy is expensive," and she walked away. He hoped she would still return with another shot of gravy but her next visit to his table just included the bill. My neighbor said that was the last time he would go to that restaurant — after 20 years of almost daily visits. Over a scoop of gravy?
There are several take aways from this story, all of which drive us back to the customer experience and the importance it plays in business.
The little things count. We all need to be on the lookout for the small things, because that might be the most important factor for your customer that day. I’m sure the owner of the restaurant would have provided an extra scoop of gravy if she had known it was that big of a deal to my neighbor. Our eyes have to be wide open, as in many cases these little things can be converted into opportunities — an extra scoop might have turned the customer into a promoter of the business instead of turning them away. We are talking about gravy here!
Your customers shouldn’t hear about your issues. Sometimes we are wrapped up in our own world. Maybe you just lost an important client or had to write out a check for a large expense. Those are your issues, so don’t let your customers feel your pain. I’m not suggesting that education of your business dynamics doesn’t sometime have a role in a customer relationship. Just don’t drag your customers through all your pain.
Think with a lifetime value approach. Decisions on how we respond and react need to consider the bigger picture. In this example, if my neighbor visited that restaurant three times a week for the last 20 years, that is over 3,120 visits. Spending an average of only $7.50 per visit means over $23,400 in revenue. Assuming about 10 percent profit, that is over $2,300 in margin that is walking out the door over the course of the next 20 years. All over a nickel’s worth of gravy.
The power of a detractor. Don’t underestimate the power of a detractor (the opposite of someone who promotes your business). My neighbor told me about his bad experience within the first 30 seconds of our greeting. How many other people did he tell? Unfortunately, frustrated customers talk a lot more than those that are satisfied.
We all need to focus on providing the ultimate customer experience. It pays off!