I admit that I’m a bit of a customer service disciple and can be quite challenging to go out to dinner with!  Not that I’m not a serial complainer or anything, it’s just that I often take a leaf out of the USA book on how to deliver customer service. From time to time, I follow their school of thought which compels me to speak up if I believe expectations are falling short.

A few months ago it was my wife’s birthday and for once, I was prepared up-front and I booked a table a local restaurant. And, even though I thought the restaurant would not be busy on a Tuesday evening I still took no chances of anything going wrong and made sure I called and reserved a table. At the time of booking, I also made a comment that it was my wife’s birthday.  The man on the phone was incredibly polite and said yes of course they would make the evening special.  In passing, I mentioned that I was happy to pay for a cake or something similar.

On arrival, the waiter said “Ah yes, Greg at 9.00 please come in”. I was chuffed as I thought to myself that they must have remembered my booking request and therefore I could now settle down to enjoying my wife’s accolade to my well planned evening. Oh, how wrong my assumption was!

At the end of the evening, and following a great meal, I was asked if I wanted the bill.  This was somewhat disappointing as there had been no mention of my wife’s birthday or the celebration cake I mentioned and was happy to pay for.  I didn’t say anything as there would have been nothing to gain at this late stage and I didn’t want to leave the restaurant on an unhappy note.

Okay, some people may think that I’m being unreasonable in my expectations – but you’ll have to fight hard to convince me that this was not a golden opportunity missed by the restaurant. Everything else was perfect – from the initial telephone call and the welcome on the evening through to the excellent service and great food. But sadly, the one thing they could have delivered was missed off the menu and that was the one thing that would have truly delighted their customers – the cake.

The restaurant will not lose my custom as a result. It’s just that I would like to have told many of my friends how the restaurant went that extra mile to delight my wife. Times are hard and opportunities should not be missed to delight!

One example of customer delight can be experienced by dinning at my Father’s local Indian restaurant.  On dinning there for the first time they ask you for a business card or your contact details and they then enter you into a draw to win a meal for two.  They then ask you when your birthday date and month is (no embarrassment is caused by having to give the year!). And, if appropriate, the date of your wedding anniversary.

As a result the restaurant is then able to send out an invite to have a meal on the date of your annual celebration and they also supply a cake and generally make a huge fuss of the dinners.

There are a great deal of lessons here, not least of which is that the food is actually about a third more expensive than my local curry house but my entire family is always prepared to pay the premium every time as we never leave the restaurant anything less than delighted and full!

The added value is delivered at minimal extra cost but has a very high perceived value to their customers.  So delighting customers can be both simple to achieve and also highly affordable. All it takes is a little bit of thought and planning.