Customer the field

Kassel, Germany - the practical examples of Customer delight in the real world!
It's not hard to imagine going to a restaurant on a romantic tete-a-tete with your partner on your birthday. But what is definitely astonishing is the emotional intelligence behind a manager who while monitoring on staff interaction picks-up on this fact to create an opportunity to surprise & delight!

The outcome of the female connection with emotional intelligence and feeling? I was presented with a candle lit flower arrangement and a "Plum Chiew" alcoholic beverage.It was an amazing & genuine experience, you could see it in the eyes of the female manager & owner of the Chinese restaurant, who happened to be the mother of the waiter who was entertaining us with idle chat for the evening in Kassel, Germany. It's one of those rare & genuine service experience encounters that you will treasure forever!...This was true textbook "customer delight"...why aren't more service experiences engineered like this...?...It got me thinking!

...If some forward thinking, forward looking restauranteur embraced customer delight on a regular basis and mixed it up with best practice from around the world, surely they would kick so much butt in the restaurant trade in the UK!

Tips discovered while reading books, third-party research, social-psychology & experiencing cuisine across 3 continents and at least 10 countries:
>Amazing tasty food that will make your customers rave!...people only talk about delightful or disgusting experiences, if you're in the middle you're dying. I just experienced my best Indian Restaurant ever (Frankfurt, Germany) and my best ever Chinese (Kassel, Germany)
>Do your staff have faces for a mortuary or a friendly tourist office?...get friendly, approachable, amicable smiley and attentive staff (that take reliable orders)!
>Don't delay customers with their orders, if you do, make sure they get something in return, learn from Wendy's!!!
>Make sure everything in that restaurant is fresh & clean: from ingredients, to the smell of those toilets!
>Customer loyalty?...What's my reward?....My local Indian gives me free papadoms, my Italian free Masala!
>Is your decor & ambiance building or breaking your image?...remember, perception is reality. If customer's think you're cutting corners on the decor & toilet paper...then...mmmm....
>Travel the continents to pick up on best practice - right from your PC! Top English speaking newspapers around the world have a web-presence and corresponding email subscriptions - some free that cover restaurants!
>Stay abreast with free research from top Universities, milk the power of google with the use of the appropriate keywords to find trends, etc.
>Get inspiration from the hotel sector, see what they are doing as many offer cuisine as part of their offering!....there's tons of free stuff online.

But our experience of customer delight when beyond food ;)
Our accommodation was with a German couple with a newborn. When they took our details, the wife remembered that the day we were leaving Kassel Germany, to go to Frankfurt was the morning of my birthday!....I had a candle next to my side of the table & happy birthday decoration....when I came in for breakfast in the morning. A nice touch ;) ...they had our money, we will be unlikely to return until the next documenta in 5 years, so the gesture was purely in the giving and caring!...when service is provided because you enjoy providing excellent service, attention to detail shows!

How this quest to experience customer delight started....
My education and work experience has enabled me to travel across 3 continents and at least 10 countries. This has allowed me to experience the delivery of products and services across many cultures and within diverse situations. From the essential "Food, Glorious Food!!!"...and some not so glorious ;) as Oliver Twist would put it to accommodation, through to accommodation and tourist information, I have been on the receiving side of a wide spectrum of products and services, with little to talk about, but the excellent exceptions and the awful, which in retrospect make me smile in a cringing way ;)

I have always kept a mental log of these experiences, and share the corresponding stories to amazed and bewildered people who accompany for some instances in my life-journey.

Funny when examples of your business reading are experience in the real world
It's funny how extraordinary serendipity can sometimes use your daily & mundane experience to provide real-life examples related to the business books you are reading at the time!...the intellectual recipe I was digesting was quite rich: emotional intelligence (audio & reading), Mirror Neurons (which have a social dimension), The Starbucks experience, various papers related to "atmospherics" in virtual & real settings (within the services & retail industries) and two books on innovation from one of the world's best industrial & product design agencies, IDEO: The Ten Faces of Innovation and The art of innovation-Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way.

Take the cuisine experience
When overseas I alway like to evaluate and contrast the restaurant experience with that in the UK, and I try to see how close the experience gets to my ideal restaurant experience. The cuisine experience which I manifested in its full beauty in my mind?...An extreme cuisine experience where the food was the ultimate I ever tasted, the staff the most friendly & gifted when it came to rapport building/emotional intelligence, a setting that could transport me to the food's place of origin, and an atmosphere that would keep me hypnotised until I could not squeeze another morsel through my teeth and which would end with the "sound of the remote pin-machine" awaiting my four digit input!

The "practical reality of my customer delight" experience was to unfold before my very eyes in the real-world before me during my holidays!, what better way to consolidate your understanding of learned concepts while being relaxed and filling up your belly ;)

Germany 1 - England 0 (Experience of Chinese & Indian restaurants)
My wife and had gone to Kassel, Germany for the Famous Documenta 12, the mother of all contemporary art exhibitions, which takes place every five years and had gone on in that city for exactly 60years.
I thought that it would be an excellent time & opportunity to engage my two passions; the arts & to catch up on my business reading: "The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary (by Joseph Michelli)" and Harvard Business Review's September OnPoint (European Edition) also provided me with the opportunity to digest "The Ten Faces of Innovation" , specifically chapter 7: the experience architect (pp 165-192). The other nine "faces of innovation" also encompass human qualities & attitudes that for me make the best of leveraging the logical brain's analytical qualities and filtering these through the right-brain's emotional intelligence. Again, very much in-line with the development of emotive products and in-line with my interest in the brain (emotional intelligence & mirror neurons) and its shaping of consumer behaviour.

Focusing on the restaurant experience, I must admit that in the evening I was exposed to some of the best food I have had during my current existence, but what is even more amazing was that only two restaurants got most customer experience factors I have examined, studies and learned about, but only one managed to truly delight me in a memorable way, even though the food was average! Indian restaurant & two Chinese restaurants.

The Motel One Experience - Consistent branding with a mile of a smile ;)
Our experience of Motel One gave us another opportunity to experience customer delight...Free WIFI in the Lobby!...and what a lobby!!!

While plenty of the hotels I have been to charge you to the hilt with every little luxury they can, Motel One was refreshing with the fact that you could connect to their WIFI for free at the Lobby. No time limit or anything!...If you wanted WIFI in your room, then you paid for it!...but who wanted to in such a chilled out and wicked lobby anyway?

We were more than Happy to surf the web on our Nokia's check our emails and social networks!
And the rooms?...out of this world and impeccable....just check out the images ;)

All in all, customer delight is about those surprises that are included as part of the services without boasting about it or trying to coerce you in any psychological way. It is that human touch, that detail that makes you smile and want to talk about it, and in turn transforms you into a brand evangelist -a.k.a. a word of mouth recommended fanatic ;)Some of the following reading, research and resources provide some of the elements behind engineering customer delight and experiences (experience marketing):

Ben and Jerry's Double-dip: Lead with Your Values and Make Money Too (Paperback)
by Ben R. Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

Building Great Customer Experiences (Hardcover), by Colin Shaw and John Ivens

Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution (Paperback)
by Justin Kirby (Editor) and Paul Marsden (Editor)

Emotion Marketing: The Hallmark Way of Winning Customers for Life by Scott Robinette and Claire Brand (Hardcover - 1 Jan 2001)

Gung Ho!: Turn on the People in Any Organization (One Minute Manager) (Paperback)
by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

Raving Fans: Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service (One Minute Manager) (Paperback)
by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value by Colin Shaw (Hardcover - 11 May 2007)

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable (Paperback) , Seth Godin

99-cows, Seth Godin's- Free eBook- (wordbiz)

Squidoo: Customer Service Psychology (collection of resoruces & links)

The Best-Practice Hamburger: How Wendy's Enhances Performance with its BSC, Harvard Business Review, Digital Download (PDF), 3pp. $ 9.50

The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing (Paperback) by Emanuel Rosen

The Art of Innovation: Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way by Thomas Kelley (Paperback - 4 Mar 2002)

The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Trigger Exponential Sales Through Runaway Word-of-Mouth: How to Trigger Exponential Sales Through Runaway Word of Mouth (Paperback) by Silverman

The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary (Hardcover), by Joseph Michelli

The Ten Faces of Innovation: Strategies for Heightening Creativity by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman (Paperback - 3 Aug 2006)

Measuring customer satisfaction in the fast food industry: a cross-national approach, G. Ronald Gilbert, Cleopatra Veloutsou, Mark M.H. Goode, Luiz Moutinho, Journal of Services Marketing, ISSN: 0887-6045, volume: 18, Issue: 5, Page: 371 - 383, 2004 (available digital download via emerald insight) - £14.50

Fresh business thinking: Fast Company (magazine, US), with search-able digital archive

More Fresh business thinking: Business 2.0 (magazine, US), with search-able digital archive

Explore and learn about: Neuroeconomics, which combines neuroscience, economics, and psychology to study how we make choices. check out Neuroeconmics in Wikipedia, or another of my articles that looks at emotion & choice, and has further interesting references.


  1. Andrew Seaton said...

    Love this William! Really interesting, backed up by experiences - looking forward to reading your other Blog posts on business.  


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