Experience Design – The Cost

A night NOT to remember

Experience Design - just like dominoes

Previously I wrote about Seven Steps to Create Sensational Experiences. And, it forced me to reflect on a recent night out for dinner with some friends.

The most interesting thing was that whilst most of the night was good, a few small things left us all feeling a little underwhelmed and unlikely to ever return.

The old marketing rule suggests it’s much harder to gain a new customer than to have one return. Therefore taking care of your current customers is crucial. And, this classic scenario of not paying attention to the full experience you’re providing can be a costly business mistake.

Moments That Matter

Designing experiences is like putting a set of dominoes. Ideally, each domino is aligned so that it sets up the next one and so on. However, one miss and that single moment can destroy the overall experience.

And worse, sometimes one little breakdown in expectation can set up a chain of broken moments and lead to a less than satisfying memory. And, this is significant because our brains are wired to take greater notice of bad experiences to avoid them in the future. One bad moment can overshadow all the good ones.

Whilst we might think that it’s the big breakdowns that ruin a night out, it’s more likely to be the simpler and smaller ones.

[Tweet “Two essential things to #DesignExperiences your customers will love”]

Three Moments

For me there were three key moments that shaped our dinner night.

1 Did he lie on purpose?

Firstly, my friend asked for a light beer only to be told there wasn’t any and he should have a more expensive foreign beer. Unfortunately, for the waiter I could read and the light beer written down on the menu was ordered. This was just plain odd. Why would he do that? And, it probably was the crack that kickstarted our radar to look for other incidents.

2 The Selfish Manager

Secondly, the venue was a little noisy. In particular, there was a speaker playing music directly behind the person at the head of the table. The music they played was enjoyable and it was too loud. I found it really difficult to hear what was being said even when the person talking was only a metre or so away. When we asked to have the music turned down the reply was ‘The manager likes to have the music this way’. Huh??? I’m not kidding, that’s exactly what the waiter said! As you might expect this was a huge disconnect.

3 Think it through

Thirdly, we ordered dessert. There were some yummy choices and as a table we ordered the plate of desserts so we could all have a nibble on each of the different taste temptations. The first little breakdown was that it took a long time to serve us – even though we were almost the only ones left in the restaurant – and it was still only 10:30pm. The big breakdown was that the dessert was served on a single platter and we were only given one spoon each with which to eat. There were no side bowls and no serving spoons, which made it impossible not to double-dip as you tried each one. This was not good hygiene for a table of five people.

The Negative Cascade

The really interesting thing was that the desserts were delicious. However, this breakdown in service triggered a negative mindset where we became really picky about almost everything. It was the dominos falling in the wrong direction! For instance, whilst the Chocolate and Hazelnut Terrine tasted yummy we tended to focus on the lack of hazelnuts in it.

Likewise, notice that I’m talking about what didn’t work here? The food for the main meal was delicious and it was completely overshadowed by the way the dessert was served. This is how experiences fall over.

Two Essential Things To Do

The point of this blog post is to point out how simple everyday things are often the trigger for customers not coming back. Hopefully, this will prompt you to review the experience you create and provide for your customers. Here are two essential things you can do:

  1. I’d bet money that the restaurant we visited didn’t even know we had a bad experience. What can do you to find out what it’s like to be your customer?
  2. If you’re struggling for motivation to design your customer experience then do these two calculations: How much of your annual turnover is from repeat customers? And, if you increased this by only 10% how much would this be worth?

Love to hear your thoughts. Add a comment below.


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