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STOP TRYING TO WOW YOUR CUSTOMERS

Focus instead on delivering exactly what they want

 

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THE 10 BIG MISTAKES COFFEE SHOP OWNERS MAKE...

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September 29, 2016 0 comments

Not long after I graduated (not long after the potato famine) legendary management writer Tom Peters wrote a book called The pursuit of WOW!  He even wrote WOW in upper case and included a jaunty exclamation mark to really drive his point home.

I’d studied his work at university based on his first book – In search of excellence – at university and it was a fascinating read.  The book was a deep dive into 43 of the best companies in America and what made them tick.  I can ignore the fact that most of those businesses subsequently went bankrupt and accept that there genuinely were some interesting observations in that book – observations that could serve any business well.

But by the time he came to write The pursuit of WOW! Mr Peters had morphed into some sort of business messiah.  Having never actually run a business himself he had shifted into that classic “consultant trap” of being obsessed with cool businesses and attempting to find case studies to prove his theories rather than test them.  This, incidentally, is exactly the opposite of what we attempted to do in our most recent book – Wake Up And Sell More Coffee.  We were actively attempting to find flaws with our theories by studying 22 of the best coffee shops in the world.

I digress.

This book prompted the start of a whole revolution in business whereby owners and chief executive officers had to learn how to delight, wow and exceed customer expectations rather than meet them.  It was quite an intoxicating message – especially as my first business (and ego) was growing very fast at that stage.

The intervening years and a multiple pieces of consumer research (most recently in conjunction with Caffe Culture) reveals that actually what customers really want, outside of the wonders produced by silicon valley and for special occasions, is for you to do what you said you were going to do.  It certainly doesn’t make such a catchy title for a book… “The pursuit of doing what you said you would DO!” but it’s almost certainly more important for the average coffee shop or local high street store.

As an owner, particularly in the early days of my businesses, I consistently kept dreaming up new and exciting things for us to produce.  But, especially on the catering side of what we were doing, I was quite often under delivering on the core promise that I’d made in a proposal.  I would try and add all these “WOW!” items that weren’t actually very tasty and then cut corners by not having enough staff or equipment that was up to the job.

Turns out, according to our research, that nothing has really changed.  The good news is that the average consumer is very much still a fan of the independent coffee shop.

Over 80% of our respondents wanted to see growth in the independent sector.

Only 3% wanted to see more chain growth!

62% of them would prefer to use an independent rather than a chain.  Only 25% actually prefer the chains.

So that all sounds good, for the average independent anyway.

But… and here’s where it becomes interesting, only 36% of the respondents actually do frequent the independents.   And the reason for that?  Most independents simply aren’t providing what they think they’re providing.  They’re not consistently providing what the customer wants.

This research, coupled with others in similar markets, shows that customers continue to be frustrated with generally poor service, long waiting times for food, poor hygiene and cleanliness of staff and premises and the long standing issue – tables that aren’t cleared.

So what’s the fastest way to ensure you can start to deliver what the customer wants and expects?

Start eliciting “negative feedback” only from customers.  i.e. stop asking

“Was everything okay?”

and start asking

“What could we have done better?”

And then, in a systematic fashion, create processes to ensure that you fix the issues that have come up.  That one thing will dramatically distance you from the competition and ensure you consistently meet expectations and “do what you say you’re going to do”.  In fact, given time, you might even be able to slot in a little bit of WOW!

 

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