Not so long ago I went out to dinner at a local restaurant; it was my first visit there. The waiting staff were nice and friendly, there was a good feel to the restaurant, and the menu looked interesting. In the end I decided to try their fish stew – and what a fabulous choice it turned out to be.
It was beautiful. Real chunks of at least three types of fish, a nice big langoustine, half-a-dozen mussels or so, a lovely rich soup and lots of lovely toasted bread to soak up the juices. All together a real treat.
Recently, I was in the area again and having had such a good meal on my first visit decided to dine at the same restaurant. After having a long hard look at the menu, and not being able to decide on which of the tempting dishes to try, and, as it was so good the first time, I went for the fish stew again. How I wish I hadn’t.
It looked similar: large langoustine, lovely tomato coloured soup, but that was as far as it went. There were plenty of mussels, about three times as many as on the first occasion, but some weren’t very good, only one piece of fish (bony) and just two bits of toasted bread. Nowhere enough to soak up the lovely juices – only the juices weren’t quite as tasty – and so I ended up leaving most of the soup.
So what has this to do with your business?
Well, I will never have the fish stew again, as I can’t be sure if it will be good or bad, and I don’t want to be disappointed, but worse, I may not even visit the restaurant again.
And this is what it has to do with your business. Does your business provide a service, an experience, which is consistent? Put another way, do your customers know exactly where they stand? Because if not you could be losing business without even realising it. Let’s face it, I’m not going to go back to the restaurant and tell them I might not be back; I just won’t go again.
The thing about the consistency of your offering is that it doesn’t have to be just about the big things. It could be the way your telephone is answered, or not answered. It could be the way that your customers are met at reception. It could be whether your invoices arrive at the same time each month. It could be how quickly you return a phone call.
What’s important is that your customers have an expectation, and whatever that might be, they will be a happier customer if they can count on their expectation being fulfilled consistently.
After all, it’s why the Big Mac is such a success! You know exactly what you are getting every time you order one.