What You Don’t Want Me Thinking When I Buy From You

April 29, 2013

The other evening my wife and I were discussing where to go to dinner when I said, “Let’s go to that place with the fancy nachos I like; you know, the one with the crappy service.”

Unfortunately, she knew exactly which place I meant.

Restaurants deliver a product and a service, and the best ones excel at both. This restaurant has a good product, but its service is almost uniformly poor.

What You Don't Want Me Thinking | Thumbs Down

The servers, while nice enough, tend to forget about you for long stretches. The kitchen almost always takes too long to get the food out. And good luck getting the check before the next ice age starts.

We now associate this restaurant with good food and bad service – and that is a terrible place for a business to be, particularly if we are not the only ones who feel that way.

But wait – aren’t you going back there? Aren’t you giving them your business regardless of the poor service? Obviously, the product is good enough that the service doesn’t really matter.

On the surface, this might seem true; however, it does not take into account the hidden costs of poor service.

Here are a few ways this restaurant’s bad service is costing it heavily.

  • We do not patronize the restaurant regularly. We generally only go if one of us has a strong craving, or we are just sick of everything else in the area.
  • We do not go there if we are under any kind of time constraint, which is most of the time.
  • We do not recommend the restaurant to others.

Finally, our patronage of the restaurant is fairly dependent on a lack of competition. We live in a moderately-populated suburb, and the food choices are limited. If there was a competitive food concept open, we would try it immediately, and if the food and distance were comparable, and the service better, it is doubtful we would go back to the existing restaurant.

It is easy to get lulled into complacency, easy to assume your customer service is good enough. But are your customers truly happy?

Why do they stay? If even one of your answers is a lack of options or high switching barriers, then it’s time to take a good look at your customer service.

Sooner or later, competition arrives and switching barriers decrease. If your customers are staying not because they want to but only because there is really nothing better available… well, you’re lucky. And luck only lasts so long.

If you focus on delivering Hero-ClassTM Customer Service, you will make your customers so happy that it won’t matter what the competition does – your customers won’t even consider leaving.

And that is what you want people thinking when they buy from you.

11 thoughts on “What You Don’t Want Me Thinking When I Buy From You”

  1. We have some of those restaurants where I live in Norway as well 🙂 I am usually the one asking my wife to go, and that’s mostly not just because of the good food, but because we get a lot of food (and it’s usually a pizza restaurant). Like you said, we don’t tell our friends about it, but if we would have, it would not be a good thing. We would tell the negative feelings we have towards the restaurant, and not focus on the awesome food.

    1. I know I’m supposed to respond to your comment Jens, but I’m just thinking about pizza… 🙂

      I’m glad you brought up a restaurant, because they can often be successful based solely on good food and a good location. Eventually, something happens though. Someone builds a new shopping center across the street; they are forced to move to another part of town — and now they have to compete. And now the bad service that was hurting them before (no recommendations) is fatal.

  2. There was a family owned Italian place in Lakeland where the spaghetti and salad were great and it was very kid friendly, especially after a baseball or soccer game. It was a nice little neighborhood place that had been there forever. The service was always hit or miss, but it was ok to walk up to the counter to get someone’s attention.

    The old man died and his family ran it for about 10+ more years before they closed it down. We still wish it was in town….

    Sometimes food and atmosphere trumps service, huh?

    1. Some restaurants can get away with it, but I think they are the exception. You have to wonder if it does trump service… how come the business is no longer there?

  3. Pingback: Friday Roundup: Customer Service

  4. How’d I miss this?! It’s exactly one of my marketing-proof scenarios; being the only game in town, more marketing won’t make a difference (i.e. no referrals) and/or negative reviews and comments won’t either (bad PR) b/c.. only game in town. Sigh. It’s very easy to get complacent, think service/product are enough. I work w/ small biz, B2B and can tell you almost everyone I work w/ will sacrifice some service, some convenience and even a little quality for a healthy break in price. So you’ve got to pay attention to what others are doing. And if better options start delivering in your neighborhood, that place better watch out. FWIW.

    1. I think complacency is a huge factor in these things Davina. It’s human nature to some degree; why put out more effort than needed when the results will be close to the same either way? But it comes at a price of thinking the results are because of not in spite of the service being provided.

  5. I actually come upon your blog by accident, however I was really fasinated with the post. I would agree that you must provide both a quality product and an outstanding service to ‘BACK IT UP’, one cannot really funcation without the other. It does not matter what area of business you are in customers will not return if one or the other is no good. I am a firm believer in surveys for your customers, because if you do not know what is wrong you cannot put it right.

    1. I agree Graham — for most businesses they have to have the service to back up their product, and the product to lay the foundation for their service. Companies that are lacking in either area can have a tough time competing.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!

  6. It used to be enough to sell things at a competitive price and good service. Today that’s just the ground floor. As you point out, any lapse of either is going to damage reputation.

    This is good news for consumers and any business that is willing to take care of such little things as paying attention to the customer. Turning somebody into a “brand advocate” Potentially multiply the ROI by 100x or more.

    1. Its apt you mention the “little things” Warren, because it’s really not that hard to differentiate yourself through service — and as you point out, the benefits can be substantial.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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