When I’m working with clients on an issue related to customer service, one of my favorite exercises to walk them through is what I call the Restaurant Experience Cycle. The first thing I do (and you can do with your staff) is draw a large circle on an easel or white board. I then ask, "Let’s start by thinking about all of the little decisions that affect whether or not you’re going to go to a restaurant–and more importantly, if you’re going to return to that restaurant."
I then start by asking them about all of the decisions or influencers that might affect them choosing to go to a restaurant. They usually start by listing off items like, "A friend’s recommendation." "A good review in the local paper." "A coupon or mailer." "The kind of food offered." "How the restaurant answers the phone." "The design of the website." Etc.
Then I have them start listing what’s going through their minds as they’re pulling up to the restaurant. "The landscaping." "The kinds of cars in the parking lot." "The kind of people milling about." "The lighting." "The design of the building." "The signage." "The upkeep of the parking lot or general cleanliness of the area." Etc.
Next, I have them list off what’s going through their minds as they’re walking into the restaurant. "The temperature." "The lighting." "Smoking or Non-smoking." "The kinds of people." "The noise level." "The design and layout." "The kind of music being played." "The friendliness of the host/hostess." "The length of the wait or the busyness of the restaurant." Etc.
Then I ask them about what’s going through their minds when they’re seated at their table. "The menu." "The font choices and design of the menu." "The cleanliness of the table." "The table setting." "The lighting." ‘The temperature." "The friendliness of the wait staff." "The speed of the wait staff." "The knowledge of the wait staff." Etc.
Next I ask them about the food itself. "Is is what I ordered?" "Is it good?" "Did it get here quickly (or at a decent pace at a nice restaurant)?" "Is it still hot (or cold if it’s supposed to be cold)?" "What does the plate design look like?" Etc.
Then I ask them about what happens after the meal. "The speed at which the table is cleaned." "How quickly the coffee arrives." "The taste of the coffee." "If the server is available or hard to track down." "The speed at which the check is delivered." "The accuracy of the check." "The speed at which the server returns with the check and their credit card." "The way the host/hostess says goodbye." Etc.
In just a few minutes, it’s amazing how many ideas will pop onto that easel or white board. I then usually say something like this, "Now, if you and I were to ask a restauranteur what they think determines whether or not a customer will return to a restaurant, they would almost always list one thing, "It’s the quality of the food," which isn’t a bad answer. However, it would be a MASSIVELY INCOMPLETE answer.
Why? Because it’s not one thing, but lots of things that influence anyone’s decisions to return to a restaurant (or any other business). If the food was incredible, but the temperature in the restaurant was too cold or the wait staff too difficult to find or the noise level was too loud or the parking lot was too messy or the lighting was too dark or . . . chances are the person isn’t coming back. They’ll go someplace else next time. Why? Because it’s not one thing, but lots of things that influence customer behaviors.
Once your people get it, then draw another circle and start thinking through every encounter your customers (and potential customers) have with your business. Once you’ve listed all of those moments/decisions/encounters, you’ll want to figure out, "How can we make each one of these more remarkable?"
Why? Because remarkability isn’t about one thing, it’s about lots of things!