“No, thank you. Black’s fine.”
I eat in restaurants several times a week. I order coffee with nearly every meal. And every one of those meals involves the “cream-or-sugar-no-thank-you-black’s-fine” exchange.
I’m a straight up, brew it strong, several cups a day, just inject it into my veins kind of coffee drinker. No flavors, no froth, no foam – just strong black coffee, and preferably from The Roasterie. That’s been my coffee drinking preference for more than three decades. I’m not going to change.
Yet every time, and I do mean EVERY time, my coffee comes
accompanied by a little silver or china pitcher bearing cream, or a small bowl teetering with plastic half and half packets!
Now it’s perfectly OK to ask me whether I want cream or sugar. But WHY do they even bother to ask me if they’re going to bring it anyway?
How many times a day do restaurants across the country literally pour pennies down the drain serving cream to customers who don’t want it? Not to mention what it costs them to buy the extra inventory of little pitchers they need to keep around the kitchen to serve the unwanted cream. Maybe it’s not enough of an extra expense to curdle the bottom line, but my point is this:
How often do companies decide to add to their customers’ experience, but end up offering them something they don’t want? For example, I have more return address labels than I’ll use in a lifetime, courtesy of my insurance agent who feels compelled to include them with every mailing he sends me. I don’t want them and I don’t need them. So, they get tossed in my recycling bin. He wastes money sending them to me, and I spend money for the recycling service. Who wins here?
The restaurants are doing at least one thing right: they’re asking whether I want the cream. They just aren’t listening to my answer. My insurance agent doesn’t even ask about the labels. They just arrive.
It’s always good to follow the rule of underpromising and overdelivering, but not if your customers don’t want what you’re delivering. Does your company waste money, and possibly even annoy your customers, by guessing wrong about what they want? Or, do you ASK your customers how you can better serve them, and then LISTEN to what they tell you?
Cream or sugar? Listen to what your customers are telling you, and your company will rise to the top.