Raising the bar on expectations, one customer at a time

Since I’ve been on a tear the last few posts, time to switch gears. Central theme, customer service expectations blown out of water.


Not too long ago, I tweeted that “Chick-fil-A is the Disney of fast food.” Because they are.

One busy Saturday morning I waited for my chicken minis. Which really, they need to make available all day b/c they’d be my #1 all time favorite snack, right there with the Checkers fries. Ahem.

I hadn’t complained, wasn’t put out by the wait. Without blinking the manager handed me a card for a free chicken biscuit for my next visit as she handed me my food.

Atlanta Bread Company

One of my favorite coffice joints with the yummy soups and free WiFi is ABC. I had joined another woman at a big table – because all the small ones were full.

A while later a manager asked if we would mind moving, since they had a group meeting coming up and needed the big table. We said sure, happily got up to back up our tech toys as there were now open tables. Without hesitation, she gave us each tickets for free lunch on next visit.

My dentist and mechanic

Not sure the names are important, they’re not major brands or anything, but my dentist and mechanic get customer service, online and off. My mechanic has WiFi in the waiting room. The dentist offered use of Bose headphones for my iPod, to cancel out the noise during the wisdom teeth extraction. Both use email, other e-tools to stay in touch with their customers. I mean, I ‘liked’ my mechanic on Facebook the other day, so happy was I with their service.

What do you expect, anyway?

Maybe it’s the Gerber Baby Syndrome or ‘champagne taste, beer budget’ thing but consumers do feel more entitled to exceptional service at outlandishly low prices. Could be more Groupon backlash, everyone hunting the next BBD? I don’t know.

What I DO know is this, this is what you want: people talking about your company, praising what you do. This is what growing small businesses need, positive word of mouth. What you don’t want is to hear someone to say ‘you are the Uverse of your industry’ – that’s bad. FWIW.

In a world when Apple can’t even outdo Apple, how do you raise the bar on expectations?

Want More? Keep Reading.

11 thoughts on “Raising the bar on expectations, one customer at a time

  1. Hello Davina,

    Man, we don’t have good ol’ Chick-fil-A here in the PNW. Oh well. We don’t have In And Out Burger either, man! Anyway this all sounds great and the small things really do add up to a great customer experience. There is a local grocery store we go to all the time, just because the employees are so nice. It’s always a great experience.

    Wisdom tooth extraction! Ouch. I remember that experience. Actually it wasn’t so bad, but I had to deal with the experience with no headphones, man.

    Jens was talking about some very similar experiences over at Bill D’s place, if you haven’t already checked that out. I think there is something going around 😉
    Craig McBreen recently posted..Who else wants to live like a twenty-something globetrotter?

    1. Franchise! You’d make money Craig.. only you HAVE to work at the store, can’t just be an off-hands manager. It’s good fast food; as Marcus mentioned, although it’s more money people go all the time. I’d so much rather go to Publix than Walmart for groceries; better experience and value (when I stick to the sales).

      The dentist is never fun, but at least they make the effort to make the experience as good as possible. And Jens did give some good examples, from both ends of the spectrum. Thanks for stopping in.

  2. I love the Chic-fil-a example Davina. Very early on in my blog, I wrote an article about chic fil et having the best business model ever…and to this day I get tons of ‘Chick-fil-et business model’. It’s funny how many people are typing in that search phrase, because so many want to know how a company can charge way more than anyone else with ‘fast food’, yet be FULL all the time….and manage not to need Sundays to be profitable.

    Gotta love it.

    Great read, and I’m glad your email feed seems to be up again. 🙂

    Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..10 Ways to Convince Your CEO and Management Team to Embrace Social Media

    1. Value doesn’t exist, it’s the perception of value that matters Marcus. (And yeah, I’ll totally have to write about that some day too.)

      Even with the down economy, people still make room in their budgets for Starbucks, Whole Foods, Apple, Four Seasons, Coach – all the things they think are worth the $$. I’m a big Disney fan b/c I’ve been to my local Six Flags and there’s no comparison; WDW is so much more bang for the buck.

      Oh and the email thing.. I humbly bow to TPTB b/c I’ve done NOTHING. That’s been the frustration, I did nothing to break it, not sure what’s sorta fixed it.. but am just happy it’s kinda working (as I have been blogging all along). FWIW.

  3. And you know what? It was really just a little thing to create a WOW experience. Take care of the small stuff and the majority of the time it will put you well ahead of the pack.

    If you get a chance tomorrow (Thurs) stop by my place and Jens Berget has a similar story but with a good and bad experience.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..Don’t Skype your community away

    1. Dude.. I read this and read Jens’ post, but somehow, forgot to reply? My bad. Anyway Bill you are exactly right about the little things.. and we remember them, how someone made good on a mistake or did that ‘extra’ we weren’t expecting; and it can make all the difference.

  4. Love those fries, too, Davina, but don’t go there often enough to have those experiences. I think your point about the taste-to-budget ratio is exactly it, and the thing is, it doesn’t take much to make somebody who doesn’t have much to spend feel like they’re in a top-of-the-line establishment. Keep the place clean; you have computers for your staff, share the wi-fi love; you know you’re gonna make an awful noise in somebody’s mouth, give them some earphones. All the difference between making a customer feel like you’re just gathering as many pennies as you can all day to stay afloat and making them feel like they’re handing over hundred dollar bills.
    Shakirah Dawud recently posted..The Attack Of The Grinning Avatar

    1. I’ve got a post semi-drafted on sharing the WiFi love Shakirah; I think for many a restaurant, shop, waiting room – anywhere people spend time – it’ll be a deal breaker. I know I often pick my lunch/dinner place not just by tastes, but also the Net access my iPad craves. 🙂

      Really, does it cost that much more to train people to be polite, helpful? Just talked about CRM and rewards programs, how some companies need to put their loyalty options front and center, show their customers how much they appreciate their repeat business. It’s a no brainer when they’ll make more money over time, and yet too many fear giving away the store. FWIW.

  5. Hi Davina,

    Thanks for the shout out and the great anecdotes about exceeding expectations. It’s interesting you mention Chick-Fil-A, as one of the first customer service stories I ever wrote about was my experience with a manager at the local store directing rush hour traffic in the parking lot. Truly above and beyond.

    Very impressed with your mechanic, and it’s interesting how we set the bar according to industry. Nordstrom’s doing the same thing would not be impressive, but your mechanic stands out. Kudos!
    Adam Toporek recently posted..Customer Service Training Video: Every Customer Has a Story

    1. And my dentist too, I mean it’s the DENTIST, no one like them and yet, they do a pretty good job. I remember the Chick-fil-A post Adam; some brands do GET it and you can see it in the attitude, training of the staff at all levels. Juxtaposed to my last couple of posts.. what a difference. The most frustrating part about negative customer experiences is that it CAN be done well. Thx.

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