You make the call:
I recently had two experiences at a restaurant that were both enjoyable. I liked it so much, I registered for their frequent diners card to gain points for each visit, anticipating that I would bring out of town guests and meet business clients there.
I arranged a dinner at this restaurant for about 15 people on a Tuesday night. Luckily business was slow. They loved it. The atmosphere and service were great. We consumed several bottles of wine and other cocktails, in addition to 15 appetizers, entrees and desserts. A good time was had by all.
I inquired about obtaining additional points on my card, given that I had brought a large group and the answer was a flat NO. Only one card per person. They did suggest that if I wanted the points, I could pay for all 15 people and have them reimburse me. Really? That’s the best you can do?
One of my colleagues took up “the cause” and talked privately to the manager and told her that I will be bringing in multiple groups and guests for either breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners. He suggested that she might want to re-think this and perhaps talk to the owner about making some adaptations to the rules or finding another way to please a customer who wants to bring more people there. A simple thank you and perhaps a gift certificate for my next visit would have been sufficient.
An email response said that the owners have this rule for a reason and in addition, the “rewards program” cannot be used for private events. She closed by saying: “thank you for your business, we value all of our guests and their experiences.”
Given these circumstances, would you feel valued? I certainly didn’t.
I get that they have rules. And, I find these kind of rules petty and opposite of what the true intention of a frequent guest reward program is supposed to be.
But really, the points were not the point.
The intent was about creating a good business relationship with a restaurant, as my go-to place, where I am a “valued guest” and sharing the experience with many other people.
I suppose there are a lot of places that have an abundance of business so creating a relationship with yet one more guest may be a burden or inconvenience. But like I said, the place was pretty empty when we were there.
So as I sit here, with the reward card cut in pieces, ironically, I feel a sense of sadness. I feel bad that people who worked hard to please us – the servers and chef – are working for people who probably don’t really care how hard they work. The servers were the ones who made the experience great – not the owners. They were fun, attentive and very accommodating to the preferences and quirkiness of 15 executives from across the US and Canada. But the owners probably don’t care.
I love the hardware store
Conversely, I think about the local hardware store and how each visit is a joyful experience. The people are extremely knowledgeable, as in knowing the location of almost every item in the vast store and they’re fun! They openly talk about how their owner supports and encourages them to have fun and go above and beyond in helping customers. And they always have free popcorn for you by the door to enhance your shopping or to remember them and thank you on the way out.
They are selling plungers and nuts and bolts. One of my recent purchases was about $1.50 for some tubing and you would have thought I spent $150 , the way they treated me.
So remember this: Every purchasing decision is about the experience.
As managers and leaders, what are you doing to make your rules and policies “customer friendly?” Are they enhancing the customer experience? What are you doing to make it easy for customers to happily return? Are your employees valued so they, in turn, can value your customers? Or are you relying on their good nature or dependence on a tip to be nice?
Managers: You make the call. Make sure it’s the right one.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker and consultant on personal and organizational change. If you’re looking to rev up your customer service and corporate culture to better serve your customers, give Marty a call today: 816-695-5453. firstname.lastname@example.org
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