Setting Customer Expectations: Does Your Policy Always Make Sense?

Image courtesy of aminaelahi's photostream

Image courtesy of aminaelahi’s photostream

There is a local restaurant that offers a great sushi happy hour. The sushi is fresh and made upon order. The service is prompt and attentive. The prices are beyond reasonable, especially considering the variety offered. I have been there many times, with various people.

Last week, on yet another cold day, we decided to try carry out for the first time instead of dining in. We were fairly certain that the happy hour prices wouldn’t be offered for carry out but the food is great and the prices are fair, even at full price.

When I stopped to pick up the carry out, true to my other experiences, the food was ready as promised. I handed over my credit card without much of a glance at the bill. After I signed my name I took a closer look and was surprised to see the following on the receipt:

Roll #1 Sushi Happy Hour $2.50

Thought process: “Oh, wow, they do offer happy hour for carry out!”

Roll #2 Sushi Happy Hour $2.50

Thought process: “I’m going to tell Maryellen and Jen about this.”

Roll #3 Sushi Happy Hour $2.50

Thought process: “This is so awesome.”

Sushi Special                     $7.50

Thought process: “Sushi Special? Huh? I only ordered 3 rolls.”

As it turns out, if you purchase sushi between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the happy hour prices appear on the receipt. However, if you carry out, then they add the extra cost as “Sushi Special.”

This did not make me feel special.

When I inquired with the hostess, she said, “I don’t know why we do that. It’s just the way it has always been done.”

Lesson #1: Words never to say as a response to a customer question: “That’s just the way we’ve always done it.”
The ironic thing is that I was completely fine with the $15 total. It was still a fair price for the quality and quantity of food I ordered. But the text on the receipt still left a bad taste in my mouth. Enough so, that I immediately put the receipt in my file to blog about.

Lesson #2: What can we learn from my sushi experience? I call it the Fresh Eyes Approach. Look around your business at forms, emails, reports, voicemail greetings, displays, processes, etc., and approach them with Fresh Eyes, as if you have never seen them before. Is there anything that should be changed?  Is this still the way you want to present your company or service?

Is there something that you are doing just because that’s the way it has always been done? Many times, the answer is that no change is necessary. But without using the Fresh Eyes Approach you may be leaving the wrong impression with your customers or setting poor customer expectations.

Let me know if you want to meet for sushi to discuss in further detail.

Barbara Sulik

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