I visited The Diner the other day for a spot of breakfast. You know the one(s) - fake American eatery that serves a half-decent burger, in fake American surroundings with twee 80s music on?
When I was in there, something rather mundane happened that got me thinking.
I'm sat there eating my poached eggs and I can hear the waitress behind me talking to the customers in the booth behind me:
Waitress: "I'm sorry, but we can't give you the freshly squeezed orange juice you ordered. We've ran out of oranges because of the bank holiday weekend. We do have concentrated juice we can give you."
On one level this is understandable and we've all heard something similar before. Most people would accept this and order a replacement drink. Not a biggie huh?
However, whilst munching on my £8 breakfast of pancakes, eggs and streaky bacon, it occurred to me what had in fact just happened. It's quite simple when you look at it in cold rational terms:
- We were in Central London.
- Oranges exist.
- There is a greengrocers opposite.
- There are 2 Tesco stores within 5 minutes walk.
- There is a Sainsbury's 7 minutes walk away.
You see, what the waitress in The Diner was actually saying was: "Our preferred supplier of oranges cannot deliver any new oranges until tomorrow. We do not want to go and buy oranges for you. It may eat into our profit margin, and the product may be slightly different because the oranges may be different. In this case, we'd rather let you down than change our business practices."
Some of you may be sitting there may be thinking I'm taking this a little too far. Well, I don't think I am. Within a 10 minute walk, I could have walked to a dozen other places for breakfast and had freshly squeezed orange juice. That's what the customer asked for but was let down by The Diner.
The message is quite simple really: If you're a brand, over-deliver on your promises.
- If you do not deliver on your promises, then you're letting the customer down. That's bad. They'll tell people they know about their bad experience. People love a good moan and they'll let a load of people know why they don't like you.
- If you deliver what you say you're going to deliver you're merely fulfilling your contract with a customer. It's a business transaction. Unemotional. Efficient. Profitable. People will buy the product(s) but will they engage with the brand? Who wants to engage with something cold, calculated and unemotional? Will they even remember doing it?
- If you over-deliver on your promises then you're truly adding value to a relationship. Let me know you value my input, whether it's money, time or effort (or all three). If I feel welcome somewhere I'll go back. I'll continue to spend money and I'll tell other people why I go there. You're making my time on this planet that little bit better. Of course you're only a brand and you should know the limits, but thanks for making me a little bit happier in these hectic times.
In this case, the brand of 'The Diner' is more concerned with itself as a business rather than a place that treats paying customers as the most important factor. It was looking at cold, rational numbers and not emotional beings. In the end, the customer that didn't get his orange juice will remember his experience negatively from a product point of view. If they'd over-delivered he'd have remembered the experience from a brand point of view in a positive light.
Are your clients over-delivering on their promises, or are they merely fulfilling their side of the contract?