Customer Experience, and why restaurants should always pay their taxes

October 4, 2011

Customer Loyalty - advocacy and customer experience managementMy family and the world at large has been spending the greater part of the last few years convincing me that I should try to live a healthier life. For the most part I’ve listened. But I do admit to having a weakness for the most American of culinary treats. Barbeque.

I was chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Georgia, about barbeque the other day, and he told me a great story.  As the story goes, in his hometown the proprietor of the area’s most popular rib joint found himself in a bit of trouble with back taxes. As it turned out, he owed the government quite a lot of money. With this news it looked like one of the oldest restaurants in the town would have to close down.

When the community heard of these financial difficulties, a group of them – you might call them advocates – actually began to collect money from the restaurant’s most loyal customers. A local restaurant bailout plan if you will. For those diners, having the area’s best ribs was more than dinner; to them it was a part of the community.

It’s sometimes easy to overlook the emotional connection businesses can have with their customers and the communities that support them.

Can restaurants without the local history that the rib joint had still have this type of relationship with a customer base? Of course they can. The recipes may not come from their grandmother, but chains and quick serve locations are still local businesses run by local franchisees or a local management team.

There’s nothing stopping them from creating a customer and employee experience of a family business; An experience with a real connection to the community. They just have to know where to start.

Customer experience might sound dry, but it can be first step to help get a grip on what is and isn’t working with your business today. But beyond simply surveying and reporting CEM programs can evolve to not only identify what your experience is like today, but also prescribe how to fine tune it for your most loyal fans.

Those loyal fans are the ones that can be nurtured in to advocates. After all, there is no better advertising than word of mouth.

They might not pay your taxes, but over the years one thing I’ve learned it’s sometimes surprising how many fans a business really has. The trick is keeping them, and leveraging them to help build your business by giving them an experience they will really love.

Do you have that type of relationship with any of your local restaurants? I’d love to hear why you do or perhaps do not.