How To Gain Customer Loyalty…PSST It’s Free!

Last week I had a long chat with a friend of mine over her favorite restaurant. Living in NYC there is never a shortage of new places to try and new delicious concoctions to taste and yet my friend visits her favorite restaurant at least twice a month. With thousands of other options this commitment is huge and her loyalty means a solid revenue stream for the restaurant. And, here’s the kicker: the food, as she puts it, “is just OK.” So why out of all the other establishments available would my friend keep being such a loyal customer?


The answer, actually is pretty common of any loyalist or fan. For them, it’s always less about the service or product and always about the experience. Most people will always give me a strange look when they find out I am expert at create experiences for businesses in order to make them distinct but in today’s over crowded market  it’s a crucial component to any business. And, contrary to popular belief, there is no fairy dust involved. 


Creating an experience for your customers is not as abstract as it sounds. Yes, everyone comes from a different background and though their needs are varied their reactions and expectations are pretty standard. You’re job is to exceed their expectations and anticipate certain reactions. Let’s take my friend’s favorite restaurant as an example.


After questioning her about what is so appealing about this restaurant basic elements began to emerge: the live Blues music, great bartenders and outdoor seating. Ok, so non of this is different from any other restaurant that plays live music. But, what if dug a little deeper…


Turns out that the musician employed by the Restaurant is an old-school Blues player who is able to play almost any song the audience throws at him. And, he never comes with a set playlist. Which means that he welcomes audience input and interaction. He is also able to do blues adaptation of modern songs which makes it fun for younger audiences.


Then, there’s the great bartenders. Given that a great bartender is a staple at any great hangout probing a bit deeper will make you see that it has little to do with the way in which they mix spirits. The bartender employed at my friend’s favorite restaurant is actually an expert in wines as well and is able to recommend exactly which bottle (modestly priced) will pair perfectly with your meal. He also, of course, is quick with a joke and always greets locals by name making them feel comfortable and welcome.


Lastly, there’s  the outdoor seating. What could be so special of outdoor seating? Well it so happens that the restaurant’s live component only starts @ 9pm which means that if you want to enjoy the outside but still listen to the music inside you are welcome to move over to a table and do so. The musician then will only play 10-15 minute intervals which means that you don’t need to stop your conversation for the rest of the evening or scream over a trumpet to get heard.


Is the experience starting to emerge for you?


When all these pieces are put together you have a restaurant that makes sure it’s clientele is comfortable from the moment they sit at the bar with the funny knowledgeable bartender to sitting outside for those who wish not to listen to the music to regular patrons who can shout music requests and still have a pleasant dinning experience. And yes, the word experience is key here as it is what keeps the patrons coming back over and over again.


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