The need for vigilance in your business never goes away. It is now more imperative than ever for business owners to lead by being self-aware.
Recently an article titled “What People Really Order At Chipotle” caught my attention. The author of the article, Bobby Finger, sent a survey to 100 people to learn what they really thought about Chipotle. There were 64 people who responded to his survey and the following is what we have learned:
- People don’t like waiting more than 10 minutes for the perfect lunch.
- A whopping 81.3% of people don’t know ordering online is the way to go.
- People actually order the tacos, but the Burrito Bowl is the clear winner.
- Main ingredient ordered is chicken with #2 being veggies! Who would have thought that?
- 9.4% of people live dangerously, ordering ½ pinto and ½ black beans.
- There is a split decision on the kind of rice: 45.3% prefer white rice and 40.6% brown rice. Could this mean people are becoming more health conscious?
- 60.9% don’t mind paying extra for guacamole.
- 68.8% prefer take-out!
- 34.4% rarely go to Chipotle, while 32.8% go a couple of times a month.
I imagine the leaders at Chipotle HQ are now realizing they have some work to do to help customers become aware of their online order process. Personally, it’s one of the best online ordering experiences I’ve had and yet I was surprised that 81.3% don’t use it.
Being aware of all the intricacies that revolve around your business can make a big difference. Consider the following:
- How does your customer feel doing business with you?
- How does your customer prefer to do business with you?
- When does your customer like to do business with you?
- What is the customer experience like?
- Do your people make a difference?
- Is your sales process aligned with your buyer’s buying process?
- Are you connecting with the customer in a meaningful way?
- Is your business process streamlined to be efficient and effective?
- Are you top of mind with your customer?
- What does your customer think about your service/products/people/timing/experience?
- Does your customer feel that you care?
Last week, I made one of my frequent late night runs to Whataburger for some scrambled eggs and a large unsweet ice tea. I go often enough that some of the employees know me by name. When making my order in the drive-thru lane I requested a large cup of ice along with my order. At the window, instead of getting my usual large cup of ice, the employee, whom I did not recognize, handed me a small cup of ice. I politely asked if she would mind making that a large. She replied, “We only give small cups.” On top of that, she conveyed by her demeanor that she really didn’t care. There was no smile, there was no, “How are you doing?” She was just going through the motions of a job.
A cup of ice, small or large, is not a big deal in the scheme of things. However, that employee missed an opportunity to make a customer into a fan. She was obviously the wrong person doing the wrong job.
Last night I headed out again for a late night snack at Whataburger. I ordered my usual scrambled eggs and tea, and recognized employee Mike manning the window. He greeted me with a big smile and a “How are you doing?” and then added, “would you like your large cup of ice too?” He reinforced my belief that he cares and made me “feel” good about my stop at Whataburger.
And Then What Happens?
“And then what happens?” may be the most important question you can learn about your business.
A lot of people have good ideas.
A lot of people can imagine one step in tac-tac-toe or checkers or even chess.
But a key part of strategic wisdom is to look at each proposed step and ask, “And then what happens?”
Many businesses do this right. Chick-fil-A comes to mind. Their service team is highly trained and scripted. Next time you place your order at Chick-fil-A, just say thank you. The response you will get 99 percent of the time is “My pleasure.” That is not by accident.
Then there are some that miss the mark. Like a large local dry cleaners that requires you to print the coupon they emailed to you in order to redeem it. Really? Why make it more difficult for your customer to do business with you? Or a loyalty program that requires you to keep another card in your wallet. vPromos offers a loyalty program system that uses the customers credit card and phone number for instant rewards right at the checkout. Instant gratification, isn’t that what your customer wants?
There are two powerful reasons to learn to combine strategic planning with that often frustrating question, “And then what happens?”
First, it is essential to think five or six steps down the road before taking the first step. Clausewitz, in his classic study, On War, warned that anyone who would take the first step without having thought through the last step should be barred from the councils of war. Business is a battlefield. Know the hurdles, be alert and ready to change in a heartbeat. Create the customer experience over and over until you perfect it. Make the online experience one that produces business for you – not just an infomercial. Pay attention to all the details – and the people.
General Zinni remarked that it was amazing how much trouble he avoided as head of the Central Command by asking about each proposal “And then what comes next?”
Second, your customers have more choices than they used to. It is important that you understand your customer inside and out. Not by just asking them how the service was, but by being aware of the entire process and customer experience. If you are not, they will go somewhere else and they may not even tell you.
The work of paying attention is never ending but it can be very rewarding.
Following are some thoughts to consider:
- The best business leaders acknowledge and make room for what they do not know. Until you adopt that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur.
- “Successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.” – Ed Catmull, President of Pixar
- “We start from the presumption that our people are talented and want to contribute.” – Ed Catmull If there are questions here you should identify those impediments and fix them.
- Nobody has it all figured out. You will always have problems, many of them hidden from your view; you must work hard to uncover these problems and put your energy into solving them.
- We all have blind spots. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. Don’t run around in circles.
- Keep asking “And then what happens?”.
- Align your sales process with your buyer’s buying process.
- Talent is the key. Commit to a strategy. Everything rises or falls on leadership.
- Survey your customers about their experience.
- Consult with a professional regarding your systems and process.
Resources and References
Bobby Finger, What People Really Order At Chipotle, May 1, 2014, http://www.theawl.com/2014/05/the-twilight-of-the-tortilla-what-people-really-order-at-chipotle
Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc., April 2014, Random House