Consistency & Expectations
Just a quick thought after dinner out Saturday night. Sure all brands think about consistency and expectations. McDonald's ensures with an encyclopedic operations manual that their french fries taste the same in Dallas as they do in Dubai, Whole Foods ensures their fruit is always clean and fresh, BMW that their cars can run in the neighborhood or the autobahn, and so on. But that's brands thinking as companies, not friends. If we can convince brands to start thinking about befriending people, the concept of consistency and expectation changes. It isn't simply about the product you produce, sell, or service but the signals and messages you send before during and after.
Back to dinner to help make this a little clearer. In the mood for a big ol' steak, I decided to give Chef Kevin Rathbun's (whose main restaurant is one of my favorites) newest restaurant Kevin Rathbun Steak a second try after a less than overwhelming meal a few weeks back. The problem wasn't the food (which was sub-par), or the service (which was mixed--half hour late to seat a reservation, but a fantastic waitress). After my last visit, which was a slightly higher expenditure, a colleague who had made the reservation received a call the day after thanking him for his visit. They made him feel valued and provided him with something unexpected. The problem is that I now expect it, and when the call doesn't come, I feel let down. As a "consumer" I may simply feel sated by a decent meal, but as a friend I feel disappointed.
Being a friend means going beyond delivering a solid product or service, it means understanding what people consistently can and are expecting from you.