I've been thinking a lot lately about the equation behind a great customer experience. What are the factors? Is one factor more powerful than the others? By that, I mean, can one factor overwhelmingly make up for a failure in another factor? Or scarier still, can one factor completely eclipse another factor?
The two most important factors that I’ve identified in the way customers relate to a dining experience are the meal itself (we’ll call this the product) and the service. In addition to these main factors, there are several other secondary factors that also play a role in determining the guests’ overall satisfaction with their experience. Things like ambiance, location, parking availability, wait time, etc. all have an effect on a diner’s attitude as well, but not to the extent as the main factors we discussed above.
Great Product + Great Service = Customer Satisfaction - True or False? _T_
Product Issues + Great Service = Customer Satisfaction - True or False? _T_
Great Product + Service Issues = Customer Satisfaction - True or False? _F_
To fit with our math metaphor, we’ll just assume that the “rules” I’ve outlined above are true. As with most rules (although not necessarily in math), there are certain exceptions.
Among the two main factors, product and service, is there a point at which a great product can make up for poor service? Conversely, can great service make-up for poor product? Personally, I think a restaurant has a far greater chance of redeeming itself with great service after an unfortunately mediocre product, than with a great product and bad service.
As restaurateurs, we strive for perfection in our guests’ eyes. We want their experiences to be great. However, we all know that this is not always going to be the case. While there are numerous options in the cities to be wowed with a great meal, the experiences I’ve had that stand out are the ones where the service was above and beyond. Even when the meal wasn’t as hoped, or if there are issues, the restaurant’s response is key.
Cultivate an environment that demands exceeding customer expectations. Emphasize positive resolutions and commitment to customer satisfaction when product issues arrive. Doing so will ensure that the legacy your property leaves in the customer’s mind is overwhelmingly positive. Can you afford to have it any other way?