An American walks into a English Pub wanting to order lunch….
It may sound like the beginning of a joke, but in fact last weekend it proved to be a good lesson in delivering customer experience. Let me explain. In an online exchange a while back a friend of mine used the expression “a culture of assumption” when describing her frustrations at dealing with various levels of bureaucracy after relocating to another country. People just assumed that she knew which forms to fill in, or which agencies to contact. I can totally sympathize with that having gone through similar experiences when we relocated from the UK to the USA a couple of decades ago.
Last weekend we flew back to the UK for a family wedding and I noticed several examples of that “culture of assumption” on display – the written, and probably unacknowledged, concept that your customers just know how things are meant to work when dealing with your processes. From hotels, to paying for parking, to buying gas, to airline check-in procedures, there was an unstated expectation that we would just know where elevators were, where pay & display machines were located and how they worked, how to pay for gas at a pump that didn’t have a credit card reader, or which check-in line to stand in and where to drop off our bags.
So back to the pub…
Over the weekend we went out for a pub-lunch with various family members on three occasions, all at different pubs. In each one we wanted drinks and a meal. After walking into the pub, we then had to figure out what to do next – and in each pub it was different.
- Pub #1 – Find a table, note the table number, order drinks and food at the bar, open a tab on your credit card. Food is bought to the table. Return to the bar at the end of the meal to pay.
- Pub #2 – Order drinks and food at the bar. Pre-pay. Get a number. Find a table. When the food is ready its taken to the bar. You go pick it up when your number is called.
- Pub #3 – Order drinks at the bar. Let them know you are eating. Be escorted to a table in the “dining room.” A waitress takes your order and delivers the food. Return to the bar to pay at the end of your meal.
Three pubs, three different processes, three different experiences. All of them were good meals, and I wouldn’t want the pub experience to become a homogeneous standard, as it’s the differences that make the pub experience richer than the chain restaurant (especially in the UK) – BUT, none of the three pubs had anything posted to let you know how their individual lunch process worked. All it would take is a sign on or near the bar with a few steps explained.
Overall the inconsistency in ordering pub meals doesn’t seem like a big thing – but it got me thinking.
How easy is it for your customers to interact with your company / brand?
Do they have to know the way you work to achieve what they want, or do you make it easier with a guided customer experience?
Do you assume that just because you know how to do something, that your customers (or even other employees) will?