Excellent Customer Experience: It’s More Than Just a Good Sandwich

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“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel.”

I don’t recall who first said this, but it really resonates with me.  And I believe it hits on what it takes to create an excellent customer experience.  More on that in a bit.

First, I have a confession to make.  I have become addicted to the NBC show The Voice.

If you haven’t seen it, The Voice is a reality singing competition.  In the first phase of the competition, four judges/coaches, all noteworthy recording artists, choose teams of contestants through a blind audition process.  Each judge has the duration of the auditioner’s performance (about one minute) to decide if he or she wants that singer on his or her team.  If two or more judges want the same singer, as happens frequently, the singer has the final choice of coach.

In a recent episode, Jamie Lono, a 22-year-old from Chicago, Illinois, hit the stage and belted out the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues”It was quite a moment.

After his performance, and visibly thrilled about the fact that he would be moving on to the next phase of the competition, Jamie said, “I can’t believe this man, I make sandwiches for a living, so this is awesome.”

Cee Lo Green, one of this season’s judges, reeled everyone in with his genuine light-hearted response, “You know, we should hook up, because I eat sandwiches.”

What an endearing moment of personal connection.  The crowd went nuts, and Jamie went on to select Cee Lo as his coach.

What do sandwiches and personal connections have to do with the customer experience?

Please stick with me here.

My son, John, loves Subway.  Once or twice per week for the past year or so, he will ask me to take him on a Subway run during the late afternoon hours.  You see, John is 14 and a competitive gymnast – you can probably do the math on his appetite.

As you might expect, we became regulars at the local Subway.  Anil, the owner, was always there, and Anil was, well … awesome.

John was amazed that Anil would remember his name and ask him if he wanted “his usual” each time.

Anil would follow up, “Sandwich for your dad or sister today too?”

Anil knew our typical orders, all the way down to the precise preferred volume of seasoning.

He knew my extra onion meant EXTRA onion.  “No breathing on anyone else today, ma’am,” he would always tell me.

He showed us pictures of his beautiful little girl, told us about his recent trip to visit his family in India, explained how his name derived from the god of wind; he made our customer experience personal.  Talk about creating an excellent customer experience!  He had it nailed.

And we weren’t the only beneficiaries of Anil’s special touches.  From watching him in action, it was pretty clear that Anil worked hard at establishing a great rapport with as many hungry customers as possible passing down his counter.

One day about six months ago, we entered the shop and Anil wasn’t there.  Uh oh!

His sidekick, Josh, told us Anil had sold the Subway and bought a grocery store about 20 miles away.

John was really bummed out that Anil was gone.  Josh could nearly rival Anil’s sandwich and service, but none of the new workers hired by the new management could.  Extra no longer meant EXTRA.  The personal touch part of the customer experience, the part that turns a good customer experience into an excellent customer experience, had walked out the door with Anil.

John’s appetite being what it is, we still stop into the old Subway from time to time – he still finds the sandwiches there pretty tasty – but nowhere near as frequently as when we knew Anil would be wielding his excellent customer experience magic behind the counter.

Anil’s attitude and behaviors, whether demonstrated consciously or unconsciously, get to the very heart of customer loyalty generation because they tap into the powerful emotional dynamic of the customer experience at the moment it really counts … the customer touchpoint.

For John and me, it’s the personal connection that turns a good customer experience into an excellent customer experience.  And an excellent customer experience is what generates the kind of customer loyalty that transcends product quality and works its way directly into the company’s bottom-line profits.  Case in point – the volume of our Subway business before Anil’s departure as compared to afterwards.

Do the people inside your organization create a sandwich experience like Anil, or do they just make a good sandwich?




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About Laura Meredith

Laura Meredith is the Director of Public Relations at Pretium.

3 Responses to “Excellent Customer Experience: It’s More Than Just a Good Sandwich”

  1. Enkata March 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Great analogy! Sometimes a fantastic experience can make you love a product that much more. That personal connection makes you come back time and time again.

  2. Shara Shetrit March 14, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    I believe Dale Carnegie said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel.”

  3. Charmaine Kelly March 5, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Great article. Really enjoyed it. So very true!

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