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The Downfall of My Favorite Restaurant

The Downfall of My Favorite Restaurant

I went to my favorite restaurant in West Philly yesterday for lunch. I found this place a couple of years ago. The food was phenomenal and it was always packed with Penn students and faculty. Business was good enough that, this past summer, they closed down for a month and did a complete renovation. They gutted the place, redid the dining room, and brought the décor of the restaurant up to the level of the great food they served.

There is only one problem: yesterday, the food was mediocre. Some of their best dishes were missing from the menu, and the food was not up to its usual level. It was on the whole a very average dining experience. I sat in the restaurant and thought to myself: you can do whatever you want to the decorations, to the point-of-sale system, even to the staff. But the food had better be excellent. Because it was not yesterday, I am on the lookout for a new restaurant.

Performance Principle: Understanding what makes a fantastic customer experience and creating that experience every time is one of the secrets to a successful business. In the end, if you create a fundamentally strong customer experience, you can make a lot of other mistakes and still survive. Conversely, you can do all the peripheral things well, but if your customer experience is lousy, your business is in trouble. Here are some points to consider in this light:

Are you doing fundamentally high-quality work? If you are selling computer supplies, do the right products arrive at your customer and do they arrive on time? If you are selling professional services, do you create the results your customer is looking for? If you sell kitchen & bath remodeling, do your clients get the kitchen of their dreams for a price they can afford? These are the fundamental value propositions of your business. While there are things you can do above and beyond these deliverables to turbo-charge a business, you won’t be around to do them if you are not delivering on the fundamentals.

Every business rises and falls on word-of-mouth. We all want to make buying decisions based on the reference of people we trust. To the extent that your customers are singing your praises, you will maintain strong revenues and profitability. In order to guarantee this, you have to make sure that everyone in your business is committed every day to making the basic quality and delivery of your product excellent. You must ensure that the customer experience surrounding the purchase and use of your product is extraordinary.

There is nothing more important than serving customers. In some businesses, employees want to “graduate” from serving customers to doing more “professional” things like buying product, talking to vendors, or creating marketing events. Of course those things are good, but you need a business filled with people who have a passion for serving the customer. That should be the best job in your company.


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