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Is the Customer Always Right? Well, Maybe. Occasionally. Sometimes Never ...

Posted by: Rowan Shead G+ | Monday, June 12, 2017


Is the customer always right? Well maybe. occasionally. Sometimes Never

I'm a great believer in getting to understand your customers' wants & needs.

So it makes good sense to ask them what they want.

It pays to listen and observe so you can find gaps in the market you could fill.

But does that mean they are always right? Well, maybe. Occasionally. Sometimes never.

So let me clarify this before I cause mayhem in your kitchen.

If your customer complains about the steak not being cooked properly, then just pretend they are right. Just fix it. It's not worth the effort telling them they actually ordered well done and not medium rare.

In most cases it's because they don't know what they want.

It's like in the early days when the pioneers like Nikolaus Otto, Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach or Henry Ford were inventing the car.

The First Automobile: The Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Benz-Patent Motorwagen

Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz are credited for making the first car; the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen

If they had decided to poll the market to see if people wanted a horseless carriage to travel around in, they would have received the wholehearted response:

“No, we just want a faster horse.”

If these pioneers had listened to criticism & just given up, we'd still be travelling by horse and carriage.

I'm not sure if it’s an urban myth, but I remember reading about a study by a leading university in the early 1900's. The collective minds of these learned scholars proposed that they could not see the self driven automobile being a success. They claimed that because society had come such a long way and only the rich could afford an automobile, they would not lower themselves to doing such a menial task as driving.

So by their estimatation, there would not be enough chauffeurs to drive these automobiles and so the concept would fail. In other words, they might as well keep the horse and buggy.

The Public were wrong and the automobile makers got it right!

Luckily these guys did not listen to all the noise, or we'd all have empty carports. Think how cars have changed the world we live in.

So if you think the inventors of cars were the only people to create something that no one actually wanted or knew they wanted, then think again.

Turning an unaware want into a need people crave for

Steve Jobs was the master of taking an idea & introducing it to the world.

When Jobs bought us the iPod, he was not the first to have a portable mp3 music player. They had not really taken off because we were enamoured with our Compact Disc players.

The world was not screaming out for an easier way to listen to one's own music mix.

So on October 23rd, 2001, along came Apple and the iPod with the slogan “Rip, Mix, Burn”. As consumers, we were encouraged to copy our favourite CDs and add them to our iPods. Then we could listen to any music where we wanted & when we wanted.

By the release of the iPod Nano, the slogan had changed to “1,000 songs in your pocket”. These were now highly prized items and people had to have one!

Steve Jobs annouces the iPhone

Steve Job Annouces the iPhone

Jobs was at it again when he turned the world on its end by giving us the iPhone.

Technically, the iPhone was not the first smartphone.

There was the Palm Treo, the RIM Blackberry, and Windows Mobile fighting it out for a relatively small business user market.

There was only a moderate demand for Blueberry phones by the big end of town.

These high powered businesses would show off by sending an email from their phone.

It never really got much traction in the mainstream because it was just too hard to synchronise your phone with your computer.

So on June 29th, 2007 when Steve Jobs released the iPhone, it just felt like a natural progression because we'd been synching our iPods to our computers to load it with our music.

The iPhone reinvented the phone. It was stuffed with gadgets & gizmos we didn't even know we wanted or needed.

Look what you got in the first iPhone

Look what you got in the first iPhone

  • On screen keyboard - Who'd have thought typing on a virtual keyboard could be so easy? The predictive touch feature was pure genius...
  • Glass screen - The touchscreen design was a major part of the body. The glass screen offered a sharpness that plastic screens lacked. With a screen size of 3.5 inches, it was massive at the time...
  • A YouTube client - YouTube with built-in Wifi. This was the first device that made mobile video shine.
  • Built-in iPod - The iPhone was more than just a PDA, it was an iPod with smartphone features. Other smartphones had digital music playing capabilities, but iPod was king of the MP3 space...
  • Safari browser - Supreme web surfing experience.The Safari mobile browser was the first of the usable mobile browsers. It was meant to look and feel like a desktop browser. And it was familiar to Apple customers...
  • Multi-touch - Multi-touch, swipe to unlock, and pinch to zoom are some of the most memorable first features of the iPhone...
  • Gyroscope - The iPhone was the first smartphone to automatically switch from portrait mode to landscape mode, depending on how someone was holding it, based on gravity as detected by an internal gyroscope. The gyroscope also changed how we used maps...

At the time most of us would not have had a clue what they did or why we must have this whiz-bang gadgetry.

Now, these standard features of smartphones, whether an iPhone or Andriod, are just ordinary everyday tools.

So the iPhone isn't even 10 years old and changed they world & how we interact with it and each other.

It's almost impossible to comprehend how we would live without our smartphones now!

So I guess you're wondering how this affects cafés & restaurants.

40 years ago, if you guys asked most of your customers “what would you like to eat?” and listened, we'd still be eating meat & 3 veg or dodgy Chinese.

The brave folks before you had a hunch, they tried new combinations of cooking methods & styles.

So chefs everywhere adapted and changed, offering fantastic tasting food which 40 years ago we would never have dreamt of.

We are seeing chefs cook using Sous Vide, smoking, barbecuing, confit, en papillote, liquid nitrogen, baghaar, tandoor and many more interesting techniques.

As an industry, the cafés & restaurants are not afraid of trying new ideas.

You follow fads or you create the trends.

If you are just relying on asking your customers what they like, you might still be offering a faster horse rather than a car.

If you want to stand out sometimes, you need to take a leap of faith. Dare to be different.

If I were looking into a crystal ball, I'd say having a Combi Oven, Blast Chiller & Vacuum Sealer will change the way you cook just like the iPhone changed how we communicate & interact with the world.



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