Have a different way of doing things? Don’t make your customers guess. Tell them right up front. Here is how we do things. Put it on a sign. Put it in a brochure, flier, or even a simple handout. Make sure every employee tells it to every customer. Never assume they know. Never assume they will figure it out on their own.
I took the family to one of our favorite restaurants this past weekend. They have a lovely outdoor patio overlooking a beautiful lake – great way to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend. In previous visits we learned that the wait staff will serve drinks on the patio (slowly, but eventually), but not food. You have to go to their take-out window. So when we walked in, knowing we wanted to sit on the patio and enjoy the sunshine, we first stopped at the take-out window.
But when we entered the patio there was a server bringing food out to all three of the occupied tables. Okay, we thought, now they serve food. Cool! Drinks ought to come faster now. Except the waitress never once stopped by our table. Not. Even. Once.
I ended up going to the bar to get our drinks.
And guess how I felt? Yeah, shunned, ignored, and confused. Do they serve on the patio or do they not serve on the patio? Do they serve only the southern end of the patio or only groups of six or more? Do they serve if you ask but not if you don’t?
Confusion can be your enemy when you are trying to delight your customers. For the most part, we only do the things we feel comfortable doing. Confusion negates comfort. And not only was I confused, I most certainly was not delighted.
Do things differently. I strongly encourage it. But let your customers know plainly and simply how you do things differently so there will be no confusion. Only comfort.
PS Ikea is a classic example of doing things differently and letting you know up front through signage and brochures. In fact, I think their signage is some of the best in the retail world. Apple is another example who does it through staff training. You have to interact with the staff to learn their ways, though, and not everyone wants to interact with the staff (men and introverts).