Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why do some businesses put up walls in front of their Customers' Experience?

I was at a popular sub sandwich shop the other day and noticed a handwritten sign taped over the pop dispensers that said "refills 50 cents."

I wondered how that sign got there. Maybe there are people that come in to the shop and sit for hours drinking refills of pop and the owner or manager likely got angry. They put the sign up to get rid of these patrons, or at least thought to make more money off of them.

Most of us don't usually refill our drinks when we eat but we like the idea that we could if we wanted to, for free. It lets the Customer feel that they’ve had a great Customer Experience, with no financial impact to the business. Instead, what this business owner or manager did is put up a wall in front of that great Customer Experience. At what cost? The cost to refill a container is pennies at most. The shop had already charged me a dollar for the drink. I wondered how pleased Customers would be if the owner had taped up a sign that read "free refills - please enjoy your stay." Customers might come back just because of the positive experience the shop presented - even if most of them never opted for a refill.

This is not about free refills. It's about establishing rules that negatively affect all Customers. What this business owner or manager did is hurt their business by trying to stop a select few from taking advantage of them. The business would most likely be better off losing a small amount of money to reap the financial rewards of the repeat business that a great Customer Experience brings them. It's about investing in the long term Experience of your profitable Customers.

Take a look around you when you shop. You will see certain negative rules all the time. Take a moment to think about how these rules affect your Experience. I was at a golf course a few weeks ago, the very first sign I saw was "Slow players will be asked to leave immediately." I was so annoyed and thought "thanks for giving me one more thing to worry about while I'm trying to figure out this game!"

I ended up becoming a regular Customer at another sandwich shop that had free refills, even though I don't usually take advantage of the offer. I also found a better golf course.

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