Customer Value Verses Customer Money

This is a comparison of two businesses. They both are in the food service industry. The areas they are located in are about the same, but they manage their business completely different.

One of these, a Mom and Pop business, has an inviting entrance and a pleasant atmosphere which invites repeat business. The second, a popular chain, has an entrance that looks like it is one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. Once inside, the walls are adorned with the usual fare, plus more negative signage.

The negative signage tells the customers in a very negative way how long they can stay, and if they can use the facilities or not. Between the entrance and the barrage of signage inside my expectations were low. The place was neat and clean. I was also surprised at how good customer service was. Though there was a big downside of the staff being focused on the wrong things.

Customer satisfaction is second to money at this business.

Customer satisfaction is second to money at this business.

The staff were sales people and not wait staff. Every comment from the person helping me was to sell me more than I asked for. Did I want to add on to what I ordered for so much more? Did I want more choices than the items I picked? Did I want to double the size of my order for less than the stated price? Worst of all, there was a tip jar at the register. I was told as I paid my bill there was a tip jar – as if I could not see it – and all tips were appreciated.

 

 

The second location was the complete opposite of this. The service was prompt and totally customer focused. I was asked if I preferred a smaller portion than the portion listed on the menu for less money? The person who was waiting on us came to the table no less than eight times checking to see if there was anything that they could do. Top off the drinks, bring more napkins, refill the water glasses, more ice in the drink, more cream for the coffee, and other real reasons to show up at the table. The check was brought at the end of the meal and not during the meal. We were asked if we wanted to-go drinks to take with us (lemonade and coffee).

Repeat customers is the goal of this business

Repeat customers is the goal of this business

Both of these restaurants are in the same price range. Yet one totally out sells the other without so much as a hint of a sales pitch. One enjoys a growing list of repeat customers, while the other is trying its best to fleece every customer who walks through the door.

Put another way, one business will thrive in any economy. One business may be near to closing even though it sells a more popular product. Which business would you wish to spend your hard earned money at, and which business would you likely never visit again? If you are a business owner, which business more closely resembles you own business?

Running a business where customers walk in off the street is difficult. Competition is tough, and profit margins are generally small. However a businesses that focuses on making the customer and not the customer’s money the number one priority stays in business longer and is more successful than a business who thinks their product is far superior that customer focus takes a distant second customer’s money.

When anyone asks my opinion on a good place to eat, a fun place to visit or a good place to see, places where I felt special come to mind quickly and they are what I recommend. When you are asked your opinion on where to go or where to eat, where do you recommend?

Customer Satisfaction and Cleanliness are not Disparate

Hello,

I dined at…with my wife last week. As usual we had a wonderful meal. My wife had…and I had…. As always, service was superb and the food cooked to perfection. The meal for me however was diminished by my view of the backs of the two booths.

I know with lighting dim, and shift workers in a rush, cleaning flat surfaces is a low priority. I attached a picture as it says more than words. I was facing the cooking area, so the location should be easy to find.

I wanted to bring this to your attention as I know you may wish to do a super clean before booth cleanliness comes to the attention of other customers.

We have been…customers since the eighties, and…has consistently set the standard for…not only in…, but also the state. No reason why…will not continue to lead.

Thank you,

Is cleanliness a lost art for a non fast food business?

Is cleanliness a lost art for a non fast food business?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took this picture as I was not happy looking at smeared food and thought perhaps I should share my view with the restaurant. After a week or so I decided I paid enough for the meal and should not have to see smeared food.

I checked to see if the company had a website. They do and have an email address for leaving comments. As you read above, I left a comment. Notice in my email, I did not ask for anything. I was not looking for a free appetizer or free meal after they clean up the premises – thinking they did act on my email.

This is a quality oriented business and they take their product very seriously. So what’s the beef? At the least I expected some sort of non committal reply, stating they received my email/comment and would look into the situation.

Better yet would have been some sort of apology for having a customer, me in this case, looking at smeared food on the booth backs. Maybe we have been spoiled by chain fast food establishment cleanliness standards?

If this were a hamburger stand, or a family restaurant I would understand, stuff happens, and kids are creative. However, this is an adult oriented upscale dining establishment which charges accordingly. This was not fresh food on the booth backs.

On the other side. If I had sent an email saying what a great meal it was, how good the beer tasted, and the whiskey chaser for desert really hit the spot, would I have received a reply?

If you own or run a business, and take pride in your business, give your customers an avenue to provide you comments, you owe your customers who leave a comment the benefit of a reply. Lack of a reply is a disservice to the customer, and a detractor to the business. Much like having a employee bulletin board of policy that no one reads.

Does Cup Size Matter?

Every Fast Food Chain I am aware of bundles meals as combo meals. You get main entre, fries, and large soda for so many dollars and cents.

At places that do not sell sandwiches, ordering combo meals you are offered chicken, fish, taco’s, etc, fries, and a soda. Not a bad deal and usually cheaper than ordering ala carte.

Unless you are not a big soda drinker. As I am. When most of a small soda is all I want a large soda cup seems like a waste, not to mention it is bigger to hold. Here is what happens more often than not when I eat a combo meal. I see a meal I want and add up the prices with a small soda instead of the default size soda. The combo of course is generally less expensive.

Not your way, not today

Not your way, not today

The conversation generally goes something like this:

“I would like one number X please.”

“Okay, that is one number X, an entre, fries, and a large soda.”

“Yes, that is correct. I would be happy with a small soda cup as I do not drink much soda.”

“You want a number X combo plus a small soda?”

“No, I would like a number X combo, but I would like to substitue a small soda cup instead of a large soda.”

This makes perfect sense to me. A large cup is a waste as I never fill a large soda cup even half full. This also seems to make sense for the business. Smaller cup = less soda = less money spent on a cup and soda. More profit for the business. Feels like a win, win….

“Sir, the combo only comes with a large soda”

“I understand that, but a small soda cup is all I want in place of a large soda cup. I do not drink much soda so a small cup is fine.”

“I would have to charge you more because you would not be ordering the combo. It would be more expensive”

“Okay, I understand, a large cup is fine.”

Not sure this is an inventory issue, giving away small cups and upsetting the bean count. It may be the store manager refusing to allow any deviation from the menu. Or it may be something totally different. I find it plain old annoying.

Happy Customers Get Repeat Sales

Tale of three national chain stores. I wanted one package of un-waxed dental floss. In two stores I found ten to fifteen types of waxed dental floss and no un-waxed dental floss. In the third store I found one package of un-waxed dental floss, but it was too thin for my needs.

I emailed two companies about their not carrying any un-waxed dental floss. The third store I emailed carried only one choice a store brand. In all three stores, the shelves were overflowing with waxed dental floss but void of un-waxed dental floss.

Un-waxed Dental Floss

Have you complained to your store lately?

 

For what its worth, waxed dental floss is more smoke and mirrors according to my Dentist. Feels good, slides around easily, and does a poor cleaning job.

Un-waxed dental floss cleans better, but is less popular because it does not feel so good to use.

Check with your Dentist for confirmation and direction on what type of floss is best for you..

 

Store number one never responded. Store number two sent me a marketing email, that had nothing to do with lack of un-waxed dental floss. Store number three exceed all expectations. My email had been sent directly to the company CEO and sent down the chain. A phone call from the CEO’s direct report resulted in an effort to understand and fix the problem.

Wow, talk about a company that puts in some effort! Walmart was the company that responded by telephone over a paltry package of dental floss. Talk about customer service, and satisfaction. That is a five star response to me. What more could I ask for!

When it comes to customer relations, anyone can sell a product. When it comes to repeat costumers it boils down to satisfied customers. I could not have been any more satisfied than with Walmart’s timely response.

Ethical Business Practices and Happy Customers

More than a few things on my mind right now. What I would like to discuss and what I can write about are not the same. Item one is a personal issue. Maybe I will want to write about it at a future time, but not today. Item two is about politics.

Not sure anything I have read or been told relating to politics ever changed my mind, so why write about politics? What is important in politics are the issues which the political candidates choose not to talk about.

Not writing about politics leaves me with ethics. There are two broad categories of ethics, business and personal ethics. At times those lines get crossed, usually at the expense of both the business and the customer.

I was a long time user of a certain product paid for on a monthly basis. Unfortunately the costs kept going up while the service remained the same. The product was electronic, and as we all know the cost of technology keeps dropping. Yet the cost of the product kept rising. Hmmm.

Managing a home these days is something like running a small business. Costs have to be kept under control. Funds must be managed. I cancelled my service request with the company providing the service. They were very nice about my canceling and asked me if I would mind doing a little debrief for them, so they could improve on their customer offerings, and their service. I agreed, and the questions started.

It turns out there were less expensive options the company offered which would have more than met my requirements, for one-fourth the price! I was made aware of this option and offered this option on the service exit interview.

If the company chose to be proactive and wanted to provide customer satisfaction at a reasonable price, it could have. This would keep customers like myself from paying for options they do not need. technology os a wonderful thing. Databases can be searched in an instant.

Instead the company is reactive. They noticed upon exiting the service I was paying too much for and was not using. The company now offered me a steeply discounted service plan which I declined as I already made other arrangements.

A few weeks later I received a call from a hostile employee of the company in question telling me I did not end the service correctly. All “I could say was, Sorry, your paper trail is not my problem, thank you.” I was not happy with the employees manners and mannerisms. After all I am now an ex customer they wanted back.

A second line crossing of business ethics running into personal ethics happened more recently. A conversation was initiated by someone who was planning on offering a unique service to me. Of course the initial conversation was friendly and personable. This way a cold call could be avoided by the seller.

There was some period of general conversation over a few days. After a few days the business end of the reason for making contact made an appearance. I explained nicely why I would not be interested in the service. At that moment all form of conversation stopped.

I understand people with a small business ventures need to make a living. I understand that people need to promote their business. Prompting a conversation that on the surface appears to be personal interest based, to later flip the conversation into a business proposal crosses personal and business ethics lines. In other words the conversation was muddied by not representing themselves and what they wanted up front.

If you are part of a large business and have input into how its customers are treated, please start looking out for your customers best interests before they call you up to cancel their account. The company I dropped could have retained me as a happy customer if they searched their database and noticed there was a more appropriate plan I could be changed to some time previous to my dropping them.

If you own a small business, I caution you to remember the old saying, “Never mix business with pleasure.” For any business, do not try to repair the bridge after the bridge has collapsed from poor workmanship. Why would I want to trust either the business or individual again? It would be the same as re-marrying your Ex who did you wrong one to many times before the divorce.