Retail Reflections

Toastie Wars: Customer Experience & Consumer Expectation

Toastie Wars: Customer Experience & Consumer Expectation

Why Both Are Critical To Success – And How a Modest Toastie Inspired This Blog!

In my job as a content writer I am fortunate enough to be able to work from virtually anywhere; provided I have my smartphone, laptop and decent WiFi I’m a happy camper.

Today I have been working from home catching up on my accounts, planning a forthcoming speaking engagement, preparing for DMexco retail conference in Cologne in two weeks’ time whilst also writing this blog.

Over the last week I have been writing and speaking a fair amount on the subject of experience and expectation for a number of different clients. It’s a subject close to my heart and, I suspect, to many of you.

For me, they both go right to the heart of not only retail and hospitality but all consumer facing businesses.

Not only that but they are a reflection of our society today. They show us not only how demanding we have become but how we are being subtly (and sometimes not so subtly!) educated to expect more from our dealings with brands.

Customer experience & expectation both go right to the heart of not only retail and hospitality but all consumer facing businesses

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and that has never been truer than today.

That device in our pockets which we never leave home without, sleep with, eat with (and probably a whole lot of other activities which we won’t go into here!) is always on, always connected and always ready to allow us to broadcast our feelings, our state of mind, our hopes, our preferences & especially our disappointments.

Those of you who follow me @andrewbusby on twitter might well know where this is heading (!) but allow me to indulge a little further.

Working from home for me usually means either grabbing something locally or if there’s something in the fridge I’ll make myself something.

Today I knew I needed to get a replacement ink cartridge for the printer so headed into town.

The thing I like about living in East Grinstead is that it has many independent coffee shops and small restaurants, perfect for grabbing a quick bite in the middle of a busy day. So, I planned going to one as it was near where I needed to get the cartridge; great – 20 minutes or so and then back home and on the laptop again.

The toastie Gods were however, conspiring to defeat this honourable objective.

Now I don’t know about you but I can usually tell as soon as I walk into a coffee shop or restaurant if they’re under pressure, not having a good day or just plain hopeless.

On this occasion, it was the former however I made the decision to stay with it as I’d been there before and the food and service were usually fine.

The toastie Gods were however, conspiring to defeat this honourable objective

Speaking recently to a restaranteur friend of mine about service and waiting times, he said the maximum time subconsciously allowed by people before being seen after they have sat down is 8 minutes and a similar time after that waiting for the food once the order has been placed.

That’s the timescale after which we begin to get twitchy – I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling. We can feel that resentment rising, the emotional response starting to take control.

Well, after waiting over 20 minutes for a simple toasted sandwich, that’s exactly what happened to me  today.

When, after 30 minutes it was finally brought to me I wasn’t really in the mood to enjoy it. But this was eclipsed by the fact that they had got the order wrong despite me being very clear when I ordered it.

Result? I walked out (after all, I couldn’t wait another half an hour for the correct order) vowing not to go back.

In that example, the service delivered was woefully below expectations resulting in a terrible experience.

Time was when we might have mentioned this in passing to family or friends; today we can share our thoughts with the world with just a few words and the click of the send button.

Now, with emotional response subsided there is a great opportunity for that particular restaurant to turn things around however my suspicion is that they will ignore my sentiment.

This is a mistake still made today by many brands even though the opportunity is there to demonstrate turning a detractor into an advocate.

If I’m proved wrong, part 2 of this blog will be borne – sadly, I somehow doubt it will see the light of day.

And in case you were wondering – yes, I did tweet about my experience.

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