Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Customer Experience Better Be Good for the Customer

Some years ago, a couple of investors bought an old church in a lovely town in New York's Hudson Valley. They hired an architect who transformed the church into a lovely, modern, artsy restaurant space. The owners hired kitchen staff who had attended the nearby Culinary Institute of America. The place generated a lot of buzz, and even won a pre-opening architectural award or two. The customer experience was promising: Beautiful surroundings and great food.

But it went out of business.

Why? Because the architect didn't understand the food service business. The design made it virtually impossible for the waitstaff to get into the kitchen and get the food out to the customers in a timely manner. Collisions happened. Dinners were ruined, dropped, or arrived at the table cold. Customers stopped going and the place was vacant again within months.

The investors had thought that the customer experience consisted of world-class food in a world-class facility. They were wrong. A good customer experience would have consisted of customers enjoying world-class food in a world-class facility. But the customers couldn't enjoy it.

Businesses are now talking about "designing the customer experience." If you are trying to do that, make sure that the basics are included--like getting the food to the table. If you can't deliver, don't try to design.