The Story: How I Ended Up Moving On From My Favourite Cafe
I walked in to my favourite cafe and greeted the fellow behind the counter by his first name. He was so happy to see me that he smiled a huge smile, welcomed me, and came around the counter to shake hands with me. Delight – what a welcome!
Then I ordered my usual: fresh orange juice, hot chocolate, a croissant, and a pain au chocolate. My ‘friend’ behind the counter pointed at his orange juice making machine: no oranges, no fresh orange juice – his supplier hadn’t delivered the oranges on that day. I find myself disappointed – really disappointed. That is when something important is unconcealed to me: of the breakfast what really matters is the fresh orange juice.
I eat my breakfast noticing all the time the absence of the fresh orange juice. I pick up my bag, put on my overcoat, say goodbye and leave for work: the client’s offices.
It’s mid-morning and I’m thirsty. I head down to the ground floor where the cafes and restaurants are. I notice a small place that I had not noticed before. Why do I notice it? It seems to be like a fresh juice bar! I head over there and sure enough there are various freshly squeezed juices including orange, orange and banana, orange and mango…. A little later I find myself drinking the orange and banana juice. Delicious!
The next day I find myself at this juice bar for breakfast. I help myself to the fresh juice, a croissant, a pain au chocolat, and pay. Whilst paying I strike up a conversation with the lady serving me. Then I take a seat and enjoy my breakfast.
I do the same the next day, and the next day, and the next day. I find that despite my intentions to go back to my favourite cafe I do not go back. Yes, I think fondly of the fellow who works there. I wonder how he is doing and I wish him the very best. I even think of popping in after work… Yet, I find that I never go back there for breakfast. I stick with the fresh juice bar. Why?
It is convenient – on the ground floor of the client’s offices. It always has the products I am looking for. By being a regular customer and willing to initiate conversation I have gotten to know Anne – and she has gotten to know me. The place is clean and there is always plenty of room to stand or sit down and have my breakfast in peace.
What Might This Unconceal About Winning & Keeping Customers?
1 – What happened happened yet I did not intend it to happen. Neither did the fellow working at my favourite cafe. Indeed, if you had told me that things would have worked out this way I would have argued against it. I would have found many reasons to back up my position. Which makes me wonder how much you/i can trust what customers/prospects say in surveys.
2 – Great customer service was not enough to keep me as a customer. I am clear that every time I turned up at my favourite cafe I received great customer service. In part this was because I had established a personal connection with the chap behind the counter who served me.
3 – Great personal relationship with the customer facing front line employee was not enough. Yes, the fellow behind the counter was, to use Richard Shapiro’s language, a Welcomer. Yes, the fellow behind the counter and I had cultivated a personal relationship with one another such that both of us were genuinely pleased to see one another. Yes, it was great to be greeted by my first name, with a smile, and asked about what I had been up to since the last visit. No, this level of relatedness did not turn out to be enough to keep me as a customer.
4 – As a customer I did not realise what really mattered in my ‘eating breakfast’ experience until what really mattered was not present. In my case what really mattered was freshly squeezed orange juice – the experience (taste, pleasure) associated with drinking this particular product.
5 – The customer’s experience is holistic and it necessarily involves the ‘product’. Put differently, the customer’s experience is more than how you treat the customer when s/he is ‘dancing’ with your organisation. It is more than having a Welcomer welcoming. It necessarily involves the ‘product’ that the customer came in search of.
Further Reflections on The Customer’s Experience and Customer Loyalty
Based on my experience of being a customer, it occurs to me that the customer’s experience can be broken down down into the following components:
A. Desired Outcome: Did I ‘get’ the outcome I was after? The answer to this question is binary: yes or no. There is no in between. Think pregnancy – you are pregnant or you are not pregnant, you cannot be somewhat pregnant.
B. Treatment: Was I treated the way I desire/expect to be treated whilst in the pursuit of my desired outcome? The answer to this question is not binary when treatment is taken as a whole across my ‘customer journey’. There may be elements of the journey where I was treated well. Other elements where I was not treated well.
C. Effort-Time: How much effort-time did it take for me in working with you/your organisation to generate my desired outcome? I am clear that if you are the supplier that is the least effort-time consuming one to deal with then you have an advantage when it comes to winning my business and keeping me as a customer.
When I look at my transition from using my favourite cafe to using the on-site juice bar I notice that the juice bar won because:
- It generated my desired outcome – every time without fail;
- I was not treated as well as I was treated at my favourite cafe bar yet I was treated well enough. And I was able to cause improvements in my treatment by cultivating a more human / intimate relationship with Anne who usually staffed the juice bar; and
- Doing business with the juice bar saved me time-effort because it was on my path-route to work. Whereas my favourite cafe was a 5-10 minute detour. So it ended occurring up as convenient.
I thank you for your listening and wish you the very best in your living. Until the next time….