Overwhelm Them with the Little Bit Extras

Posted on by in Branding/Differentiation, Creativity/Innovation, Customer Service, Design, Remarkability

Last month, my brother and I (along with our spouses) took my parents to New York City for a four celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.  We wanted it to be a magical weekend so we stayed at a nice hotel (The Michelangelo) right next to  the Rockefeller Center, went to a couple of plays (The History Boys, which was this year’s Tony Award winning play and, Beauty and the Beast, one of my mother’s favorites), did the tourist "thing" (like going to the top of the Empire State Building), walked four thousand miles :-), and enjoyed the Guggenheim (along with a number of other things over four days). But there was one experience that topped them all, dinner at Gramercy Tavern.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Gramercy Tavern, it’s arguably one of the top restaurants in NYC and if you’re not familiar with its chef/owner, Tom Colicchio, you can watch him on Top Chef on the Bravo Network. So, as we were planning for this trip, since one of my goals was to make sure we did at least one thing that my parents wouldn’t normally do on their own if they came to New York, I selected Gramercy Tavern and told everyone to, "just trust me on this one."

Well, the team at Gramercy Tavern did not disappoint any of us, in fact, they wowed us.  But it wasn’t just because of one or two things, it was because they did lots of things just a little bit better.  We arrived early, yet they were friendly and immediately sat us at our table.  The ambience and setting were perfect.  And the head waiter was incredibly knowledgeable.  In fact, when someone asked him a question about a dish, the response wasn’t a generic, "You’ll like it," it was a treasure trove of culinary insights into the preparation and ingredients involved in the dish. Trust me, simply listening to him describe a dish could make you salivate.

If someone dropped a napkin (even unbeknownst to them), one of the wait staff would immediately pick it up and replace it with a new napkin.  When the table needed to be cleared or food brought out, three wait staff would complete the task with amazing speed (1:2 ratio), though we were never rushed and they never "hovered".  When a palate cleanser was brought out, it was always explained and elegantly laid out (and, trust me, the palate cleanser between the second and third courses was so good it should have been a dessert option).

Then there was the food.  It was simply brilliant.  The design and the plating were spectacular.  The taste and textures were ladle dropping, mouth-watering, gasp worthy and unexpected. For example, my first course was corn chowder (but it wasn’t your father’s heavy cream style corn chowder, it was light and airy, with white foam and subtle hints of tarragon, etc. inside). Plus they did lots of other little extras for us, like writing "Happy Anniversary’ on my parent’s dessert plates or giving us "homemade" muffins to take with us so the next morning we would remember our experience at Gramercy Tavern. But the greatest comment of all came from my father, who at the end of our meal said, "I just want to say, out of 50 years of marriage, this was the single best meal I’ve ever had." Isn’t that what you want to hear from your customers or clients (adjusted to your field of service)?

So, as you look at what you do in your company, organization, association, church, home, etc. how can you enhance the experience your customers or members have with you by so overwhelming then with lots of "little bit extras" that they they’ll be internally motivated to remark to others about the experience they had with you?  Remember, it’s not just one or two things, but lots of "little bit extras" that cause people to brag about you (just like I did with Gramercy Tavern).

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