The April Experience @Home


More than a year ago, challenged by Sampson Lee to write something about Customer Effort for SME’s, I wrote this article about it, taking a restaurant in the Madrid mountains as an example. I tried to prove that even for SME´s, evaluating the customer journey and finding areas of improvement on customer effort is useful. Now during my recent holiday in Vietnam I remembered this post, while I had dinner in a restaurant called Home in Hanoi, it inspired me to write another post about a real dining experience.

We booked this to have a special dinner on the last evening of an extraordinary holiday, encouraged by the excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. Since Tripadvisor never fails me, I was looking forward to something special. A place called “Home” implies a very bold brand promise. How can you be making feel everyone at home when this is such a personal sentiment? How can you live up to such high expectations?

This is what I experienced: We made a reservation for 21:00h, and when we arrived the restaurant was full, both terrace as well as indoors, the atmosphere cozy and happy, and we were asked to wait a bit while they prepared our table. This gave us time to observe the place, glance at its history via the menu (which has a newspaper format, explaining the history of the restaurant and the dishes ) and have a glimpse of other tables, dishes being served, the way the waiters moved around and tended the tables, etc. This waiting period was not annoying at all, it was adding to the notion of having chosen the right place. Expectations soured.

Once seated, our waiter introduced himself to us: “my name is April, I am here to serve you, please take your time to read through the menu and please ask me if you need any help.” Off he went, giving us time to study the menu and the wine list at our own pace. After having spent 3 weeks in Vietnam and eating local food every day, it was not too difficult to choose what we wanted, and when April came by to ask if we were ready to order, we did so.

The food was excellent, and so was the wine. You can read all about this in my review in tripadvisor. But what was more important to me than the food, and the mean reason for writing this post, was April, and his colleagues. They made the dining experience memorable. April and his colleagues made us feel truly @home, they were simply themselves, authentic, funny, respectful. In my opinion any experience should be like, when you feel you’re special.

After ordering desert, we were asked to fill out a survey. It was short and concise, and from a professional point of view I was now very pleased too!

I gave good feedback, as you can see in the picture, and left a comment (a short hint to other customers: many of you are not bothered to do this, but this is so important for the persons who serve you!).

After collecting the survey and bringing our desert, April came by to say goodbye, he had to rush off. It was only then that I realized how quickly time had passed and that it was already way passed closing time, but no one ever mentioned the time, there was no pressure at all to finish our dinner.

When I think of all those other occasions that I’ve been asked to fill out a survey with the promise of it being quick and easy, and later ending up annoyed and bored, I once more realized how important the touchpoint “survey” is on the customer journey!

As a last gesture before he left, April handed us a card with a personalized message. Again, we were delighted by the small but personal gesture. Why don’t we do this more often?

April has had a big role in making the evening memorable and inspires me enormously professionally. By delivering authentic experiences he contributed to the brand image of @home, of Vietnam and of himself. The people factor in CX is without doubt the most powerful one. Thank you April!

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