A tale of two sandwiches

In the world of customer experience, I often feel that people simply do not focus on getting the basics right. So here’s a quick story to illustrate. Key take outs from this post are (apologies, they’re obvious, but that’s the point really):

  • Does your team know, and do the basics of the service you provide? Do you check?
  • If you have standard items that should always be available, make sure they are!
  • Don’t put unnecessary obstacles in the way of your customer – they’ll remember them for a long time
  • The human touch goes a long way, even in these days of artificial intelligence and applied innovation.
  • Giving the impression you don’t care is rubbish, even if you don’t mean to

A few weeks ago I went out for a quick lunch at a local pub. There were 4 of us. A sandwich and a soft drink was all that was required. It was a nice day, the sun was out and we sat in the garden at the back of the pub. It was empty apart from us. One of our party went in search of menus and the round of drinks.

So far so good, drinks obtained we perused the menu. There was a choice of 4 different sandwiches – we decided on two coronation chicken and two tuna. One of us went to the bar to order and was soon returning with bad news…..”they’ve run out of Tuna”. Cue rolling of eyes etc. How can you run out of Tuna? It’s not like it was a special. It’s printed on the every day lunch menu. They must have had a run on tuna……so the two tuna’s opted for cheese. Back to the bar to order, and we had to leave a credit card behind the bar “in case we left without paying”. Eyebrows were raised, but it was clear we weren’t going to get our order unless we left a card.

Food arrived pretty quickly (we were still the only customers) and it was OK. Just OK really. Nothing to write home about but not worth complaining about. Although I was left bemoaning the lack of tuna because the cheese was that grated sort you get “ready grated” in bags at the supermarket, relatively tasteless and when I picked up the sandwich most of the cheese fell out.

“Let’s have a coffee”. “Good idea”. Member of the pub team came to clear our table. “Please may we have a cappucino, a flat white and two decaf Americanos please?”………….”no, sorry, the coffee machine isn’t working”. REALLY? They did us a couple cafetières.

So, one of us settled up at the bar and we did the bill splitting at the table. Of course the credit card being held to ransom wasn’t returned by the pub team, and we forgot to ask. So the card owner realised when he got home, and had to return to the pub later that afternoon after an extra 30 mile round trip.

We enjoyed each others company, and it was nice in the garden, but none of us will return to this pub, no one on the pub team seemed to care, and of course we’ve all told at least half a dozen people how rubbish it was.

Compare and contrast that experience with a different lunch time I had at a different pub (I’m not always in the pub). It was our first visit. We found a table out the front in the sun. I went in for drinks and a menu…….to be WELCOMED. “Lovely to see you, you’re out front aren’t you? What would you like to drink and I’ll bring them out to you with some menus”. Fabulous, thanks very much I thought. What a welcome. How nice…..and I didn’t have to hand over a credit card.

Drinks and menus arrived. Menu talked through, including a couple of specials. Sandwiches ordered, no missing tuna, food arrived, very tasty. They checked to see we were ok. When I paid I was asked if it was our first visit, told how lovely it was to see us and they hoped we’d return. We will of course, but we’ll make sure we book if we go on a Sunday as they advised because they get VERY BUSY. I’m not surprised.

It was a delightful experience, they really cared about making us feel welcome. The product was great and we’ve told lots of people about it and WhatsApp’d them pictures of the food (as you do).

Feel free to comment or ask a question below and I will get straight back to you – as ever, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

I am available for coaching and consultancy engagements – please get in touch to chat through your requirements.

June 11, 2019 7:00 am

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