Are We Bending over Backwards for Consumers, or Getting Bent out of Shape?

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By now you’ve probably read the Craigslist post from a restaurateur who compared old and new video footage of patrons in his or her restaurant in an attempt to understand why his service wasn’t being regarded as highly as it had been. (It was flagged on Craigslist, but numerous copies of it have been reposted to the blogosphere. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.) 

From this empirical data, the author drew this conclusion: the restaurant’s staff was behaving as he expected, but customer behaviors had changed dramatically. The customers were making more demands, such as being re-seated at a preferable table, or getting assistance with connecting to the wi-fi and group photos; they lingered after finishing their meal before requesting a check; and ultimately they were spending nearly twice as long in the restaurant.

But why? The video suggested it was all because of their mobile devices. Connecting to wi-fi, reviewing table and entree recommendations on Yelp, taking food photos for Instagram and group photos for Facebook, and catching up on email and news after dinner are all typical behaviors for your mobile customer. Instead of using this data as a means to look for ways to improve the customer experience, at the end of the post, there was an unfortunate request to the customers: “[C]an you please be a bit more considerate?”

I would encourage this restaurateur to think of the simple ways the restaurant, instead, can be more in step with its customers’ mobile lifestyles. Small details like finding out which tables were getting a bad rap on social media for being too loud and close together and rearranging the floor plan, printing cards with the wi-fi password and situating them at tables or in menus, or determining if a higher or lower level of lighting might reduce the number of group photo re–takes, are all obvious actions to keep these customers satisfied and coming back. Mobile devices are here to stay, and ingrained in the lifestyles of customers in all industries. In the contact center world, we’d never request that our customers “be a bit more considerate” if our agents’ live chat volume went up or if calls were taking twice as long to resolve. We’d delve into our channel utilization, contact resolution and agent scoring dashboards to find out if the reasons were related to staffing levels, agent education or changes in customer preferences, and optimize our processes to ensure happy customers.

2 thoughts on “Are We Bending over Backwards for Consumers, or Getting Bent out of Shape?

  1. But illorch, aren’t you recommending steps AGAINST what the customers want? The customers want waiters and servers to take group pictures. The customers want good connection for their smartphones and tablets. I read Alyx’ post such that she is arguing in favor of customers, not against them. “I would encourage this restaurateur to think of the simple ways the restaurant, instead, can be more in step with its customers’ mobile lifestyles.”

  2. The problem as I see it in the above referenced discovered issue is the restaurant should allow WiFi and should allow it with constraints that are easy to handle. Like posting the menu with options to be selected for ordering and billing that must be gone through before you are allowed to continue with the web or what ever else you use your phone for. that way the orders can go in before anything else for a single person or group. No one thought about that yet. to set up WiFi as a local network with additional connectivity to the outside upon purchase. And a policy that the waiters or servers are not allowed to take pictures. thenit’s just a matter of business.

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