The Customer Journey, or Where Companies Lose Money - Irina Khomutova, Khomutova & Partners

The Customer Journey, or Where Companies Lose Money

Companies go to great lengths to attract customers, but it turns out that this is not the most difficult task. The hardest part begins inside, when the client is already on the site, trying to make purchases, goes to the clinic and starts asking questions to the administrator, comes to a salon, store, restaurant, etc. This is where the main battle begins for his loyalty, the value of the average check and, of course, repeat visits.

Customers will not hesitate to switch to competitors if they are disappointed. And it doesn't matter at what stage they are disappointed - they will immediately leave the site without understanding, or call an employee with a couple of questions, or maybe even have time to reach the point of sale, and there something will keep them from buying. It doesn't matter at what stage the company will lose customers. It is important that competitors will not be to blame for this, but a flaw in the internal communication system with their own customers. This applies to any business, but it is especially true for companies that operate in a highly competitive market.

In order to understand where the loss of customers occurs, at what stage of our work we are missing something from the general picture, and at the same time, we are losing loyalty, lowering the average check, and not getting repeat sales, it is recommended to draw up a Customer Journey Map. CJM is a communication building technology based on analyzing customer needs and identifying all points of contact to improve interaction mechanisms.

Sometimes it may seem erroneously that all points of contact are occurring, which is called "under the nose", everything is already clear and extremely efficiently organized. But this illusory transparency can lead to real losses. Any processes with three or more points of contact can be considered complex scenarios that require the development of CJM, for example, the simplest chain: external advertising - site - call center operator - on-site administrator (restaurant hostess, sales assistant, online store courier) , then, if, for example, we are talking about a clinic, then a narrow specialist (doctor) enters, and in an expensive clinic, a client manager (patient's curator) with a service manager may additionally be involved in interaction with a patient, etc. There are a lot of points of contact, even in seemingly short communication chains. And at any of the stages of communication, a failure can occur.

So, in 2019, while working to improve the efficiency of one IVF clinic and compiling the CJM, we identified and eliminated a very serious gap in the chain of communication with patients, which at that time led to colossal losses. On average, 60% of patients who applied for the initial consultation did not reach the stage of treatment and did not continue to be served. For information: in Russia, the base budget for one patient, depending on treatment plans, ranges from 200 thousand to 1,5 million rubles and more. And if a patient (couple) has been undergoing treatment for several years, over and over again complicating technologies and repeating attempts, then the total budget can vary between 7,5 - 10 million rubles. I have focused on the numbers to outline the scale of the problem when we talk about 60% of targeted patients who did not stay for treatment after the initial consultation.

And the second significant problem that we identified and eliminated after the development of CJM led to financial conflicts with patients at the settlement stages and significant accounts receivable after going through all stages of treatment.

Both problems had the same root - a break in the chain of management of patients and their competent timely informing. It is noteworthy that all this happened against the background of the fact that two specialists were assigned to each patient from the very first appointment: a personal doctor and a personal manager-coordinator. Formally, the clinic has worked out as much as possible the mechanisms for accompanying the patient. And, it would seem, where omissions are possible here?

The answer is not obvious if you do not study the patient's path and go through the entire process with him step by step in order to figure out exactly where the failure occurs.

Firstly (and this is the most important point from which the rest stems), the clinic did not take into account the psychological factor. An IVF patient goes to see a doctor in a state of extreme stress, often on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and does not control the situation. Even if the patient is accompanied, it is usually the spouse who is also in a state of deep psychological experiences. The degree of stress depends on many factors: what kind of clinic it is, what are the chances of motherhood, how many years and money has already been spent, how many unsuccessful operations have been transferred, etc. This specific group of patients requires that they literally be transferred from cabinet to cabinet by hand. If you let them go, they can leave, forgetting to pay, without taking off their shoe covers, and so walk to the parking lot, having reached the house, not remembering themselves. There were many such cases. 

Second, the chain of patient transfer and communication was not well developed. She looked like this. The administrator brought the patient to the doctor's appointment (in the office). At the initial visit, the doctor loaded the patient with information, half of which he usually does not perceive, without giving a clear plan of action, without disclosing the full mechanics of the clinic and the possible cost of services, since this is the functionality of the coordinator-manager (it is important to fix this moment - I still will be back). The patient received referrals for diagnostics, which he could undergo in any clinic (including on-site). According to the idea of ​​the "creator", after the doctor's appointment, the patient had to get a consultation with the manager and there receive a comprehensive consultation: on the technologies of the clinic, existing treatment plans, positive prognosis, etc. And only after that, the patient had to undergo diagnostics and further stages of treatment, while signing all information sheets of consent, an agreement, etc. This is how everyone thought it was going.

And in fact, after the initial admission, some of the patients left for diagnostics and returned for a second consultation with a doctor, and some did not return. So, the first problem that we identified - 60% of patients after the initial consultation did not reach the manager, did not undergo diagnostics and never appeared in the clinic again.

Here you can ask a legitimate question, they say why, so it was to complicate the system that it stopped functioning and gave rise to the loss of patients? Why can't you combine all the functions in one person (in the person of a doctor) so as not to create problems? Yes, in most clinics, the doctor is multifunctional: he coordinates the budgets, signs the contract with the patient, treats, and after the treatment he acts as a service manager. But, firstly, this is not always psychologically correct. What works, for example, in dentistry, is not very ethical, in IVF. The doctor has just consoled a desperate patient who, at the age of 40, has not yet experienced the happiness of motherhood, her husband is leaving her, her parents are tired of, and she does not meet with her friends who, surrounded by their adult children, simply enrage her ... and after 5 minutes he already name the options budget. From the region, we can offer you a package "age mother for 300", "surrogate mother for 900", etc. There are doctors who do not feel discomfort from voicing the subject of paid services, but in most cases, when it comes to significant budgets, this stage is simply painful for doctors. How is a doctor different from a manager? The doctor treats, the manager sells, therefore coordinators are often built into the structure of the clinic so as not to cause discomfort to anyone.

This is what concerned 60% of the lost primary. And what about the patients who nevertheless remained in the clinic and continued their treatment? At some point, they finally got to know their coordinators (this always happened in different ways). The patient, one after the other, received contracts with figures for the stages of treatment that lay ahead of him, but mostly he did not see the overall picture. In fact, no one outlined the general situation with possible treatment options and, accordingly, budgets to the patients from start to finish. And this is the path to a potential financial conflict at some stage, when the patient runs out of funds, which he counted on according to his own idea of ​​the cost of IVF.

If the treatment was positive, patients always settled with the clinic. If the result of fertilization was negative, then often there were accounts receivable and long litigation that could be avoided.

So, after we compiled the CJM, the following changes were implemented. The initial consultation between the doctor and the patient was increased in time by 35% and a coordinator was invited for the second half so that the doctor could introduce the patient to him and outline for both of them a further plan of action: what the patient should do and what the manager should organize at the first stage. Then the manager took the patient to the meeting room, where, in a pleasant atmosphere with coffee, tea and delicious treats, he told in understandable language everything that the doctor had said before, as well as the options for the upcoming treatment, the clinic's forecasts, and its optimistic results (40% of pregnancies on the first try ) and, of course, the timing and treatment options. This, of course, included all the necessary cost protection mechanisms. At the same stage, the manager-patient relationship was consolidated, followed by the maintenance of his visit schedule, appropriate notifications and recommendations.

I would like to draw your attention to another very important point - patients value the transparency of pricing and, on the contrary, most of all do not tolerate the gradual emergence of some large sums in the course of treatment. This is perceived by patients as a divorce for money. Whatever the heavy amount, it needs to be outlined right away so that the patient can calculate his capabilities. Awareness and prepayment simplify the work and help the clinic to concentrate on the main thing - on the patient's health, without chasing his money later.

With one shot, we still killed two birds with one stone: we eliminated the outflow of primary funds and prevented the emergence of new accounts receivable.

You might mistakenly think that this is a unique situation with some kind of ineffective management. However, in any company where, it would seem, there are two or more employees assigned to one client, there may be significant communication gaps that result in tangible losses and lost profits.

Any company has a place for such discoveries. In order to fully form an understanding of the value of CJM and the mechanism for working on this task, I propose to go along the path of the client, which is familiar to everyone. If not everyone is “lucky” to be in the IVF clinic, then we all become guests of the restaurant quite often. And let's be honest with ourselves, we are not always satisfied with our client experience. Remember how many restaurants you have never returned to? Where did you limit yourself to the minimum order and did not want anything else? They did not leave a tip on purpose in order to punish ... I cannot remember all the cases. But for sure, each of us will easily remember those few places where everything was fine. This very "excellent" is the sum of a large number of successful points of contact. 

I propose to conduct a thought experiment and consciously walk the path of a guest, while thinking both as a guest and as a restaurateur who must see all the weak points. The restaurant and the guest in our case are conventions. I will divide all client experience into stages in which, if you are a restaurateur, you will see your establishment, if not, then translate this experience and your thoughts into the specifics of the business.

As we walk the guest journey, we're sure to look at effective customer service improvement methods that don't necessarily cost a lot of money, but have incredible impact. We'll glean some of the most useful insights from consumer psychology research, and you can look at a lot differently.

If you think for a minute about how many establishments of a very different format in each city, in a particular area, the competition is tough. The options are endless. The client often experiences a paradox of choice, paralysis, inability to decide which institution to visit. You can spend an hour thinking about where to go and then end up heading to one of the permanent places. We all have a favorite restaurant, which we always return to. In fact, I know many people who, while traveling, being in love with some local cafe, can have breakfast, lunch and dinner there all the days spent in the city. They fall in love with the establishment to the point that they will not eat anywhere else during their entire stay. The main question is how to improve the quality of service so that the client wants to come back again and again.

So, you are a guest, and we walk your customer experience step by step:

Step 1: Decide on the institution.
Step 2: Head there.
Step 3: Come in and check in on the spot.
Step 4: Study the menu or the assortment of the display case, listen to the recommendations of the waiter / bartender / sommelier.
Step 5: Place your order and wait for it.
Step 6: Serve food, drinks and you dine.
Step 7: Pay the bill.
Step 8: Leave the establishment. Share with your surroundings ... or perhaps not.

Sounds simple and familiar. We will go deeper into each step, compiling the CJM and recording possible improvements at each of the stages.

Step 1

The guest is determined where he will eat. And he will either plan it in advance, or he will spontaneously decide on the spot. If he plans it ahead and wants something new, he will try several search options. It will be either the recommendations of his environment, or the Internet. According to John Berger's research in his book Contagious, only 7% of sundress occurs on the Internet - which is why I always prioritize personal recommendations from satisfied customers and focus the company's efforts on building loyalty.

Why are recommendations so important? This is important because:

  • Customers trust friends and family because they won't lie. Whether it's been a good or bad experience, your close circle will share it without hesitation.
  • These are targeted recommendations. No one would recommend a Thai restaurant to their friend if they know they don't like Thai food.

If there are no recommendations or they did not suit, the search begins. And here it is important that the institution is effectively represented in the appropriate sources of information that its target audience prefers to use. Search in Google and Yandex, social networks and messengers, reading reviews, studying online ratings and profile sites with reviews.

The guest has no confidence and is looking for social confirmation. This is why social endorsements, positive reviews, and high ratings are so important. People imitate, in part because other people's choices provide information. Many decisions made on a daily basis are like choosing a restaurant in a foreign city, albeit with a little more information. Where to go? Which coffee machine to buy? What movie to watch? What is a good book to take on vacation? We do not know the correct answer, and even if we have an idea of ​​what to do, we are not entirely sure.

To help resolve our uncertainties, we often focus on and follow what other people are doing. We assume that if other people do something, it should be a good idea. They probably know something that we don't. John Berger calls this behavior "social proof." This phenomenon is often used to deliberately manipulate people.

The guest is interested in everything. What kind of cuisine? Institution rating? What do others write about this place? What didn't they like? What are the prices? Are there photographs of the interior, food, etc.? What's the atmosphere like? Who goes there, what kind of audience? What do they wear there and is there a dress code. What is the best time to go and what day of the week?

This is a traditional list of questions, to which in the current conditions, and I am talking about the post-pandemic world, a number of new aspects that are important for a potential guest have been connected. From now on, he worries about how much the institution will take care of its safety, what measures are being taken, how the staff and the kitchen itself look like. It is important for him how much attention the management pays to discipline, the treatment of all surfaces, daily diagnostics of the health status of personnel who are in contact with food and with guests, what precautions are taken in the hall. These are all those questions that traditionally worried hypochondriacs and almost never - average guests.

Until relatively recently, guests did not think about whether the staff had health books and how often they washed their hands when touching the food they were serving. The backstage was not interesting. Of course, it should be noted that open kitchens have always won, where guests could see the whole process. This fits perfectly with the needs of the individual — according to the "illusion of control" cognitive distortion, people tend to believe that they can influence circumstances beyond their control. The ability to control always calms the person down.

Behind the scenes comes to the fore and can be a determining factor in choosing a new guest. I want to say that the issue of safety is also important for a regular guest, but if his loyalty was already formed earlier (before the period of self-isolation), then for the first guest a new establishment is not just a potential failure, it is also a threat to health. In the conditions of the changing psychological portrait of the guests' avatars, it is necessary to quickly adapt to the information environment and broadcast the correct images. The lack of information about the security measures taken, and even more so, the complaints of guests, even if these negative reviews are already a year old, will be regarded as a possible threat.

Consider a second decision scenario in which the guest does not prepare in advance. He's a little hungry and spontaneous. As he walks past the establishment, he will probably notice a few things. Firstly, his attention will be attracted by those establishments where there are already many guests. Why is it important? We tend to behave in a way that matches others. On the one hand, this is social proof, which I mentioned earlier, and on the other hand, conformity (a cognitive distortion due to a person's social adaptability and natural acceptance of the majority opinion) puts pressure on the guest. If there are many visitors, this restaurant should be good. Secondly, he will briefly consider the nuances of how the institution looks from the outside and inside, if there are showcases. Third, he may want to study the street menu in order to understand the specifics of the cuisine and the level of pricing. What else can the guest react to - smells. If, for example, a subtle pleasant aroma of coffee, freshly baked buns, apple pie and so on is felt, the guest will be interested in this place and slow down. When you walk past Cinnabon, this seductive scent is delicious and you give up at some point. Even if you gained willpower and were able to pass by, then, admit - you really wanted to ... And if instead it is the pungent smell of burnt deep-frying oil from the ventilation? It is clear that the guest will not be late.

What I love to do the most to attract an outside spontaneous audience is to install what I call street baits: smell, light, sound. The reptilian brain instantly detects even the faintest signs of delicious food through the aromas coming from the establishment. Producing the right flavors is a very effective and low-budget tool for attracting spontaneous guests. You cannot tell about this briefly - it is a large question worthy of a separate description, which I will definitely reveal deeply in another topic.

Step 2

The guest is directed to a pre-scheduled location. For him, several points are important. First, how will he get there. Will he drive his own car, take a taxi, take public transport, or even take a walk if the establishment is nearby? In any case, he wants to get there with the least inconvenience and in the shortest possible time. So, if he does not find an institution on the maps, then we can say that he will not find an institution. Therefore, to help the guest, all options for Yandex, Google, 2GIS and others maps - and depending on the regions, they may be different. For example, in Siberia, 2GIS is the most popular among the population, but in Crimea this application does not function. Due to the different search habits of potential guests, it is recommended to be present in all map variants developed in the region. It is also important to take care of where the guest will park the car, if this is a problem where the establishment is located. If possible, allocate special parking spaces for guests. If not, offer recommended places on your resources, advice to guests on where they can place the car. Separate advice: as a loyalty program, the establishment can compensate for part or the full cost of paid parking, depending on the importance of the guest and the size of his check. This gesture of goodwill encourages many to return visits and recommendation.

So, when the guest has already reached the establishment, important first impressions await him. And he will definitely pay attention to how the staff will meet him. Will someone meet at the very entrance? Will the staff be friendly and attentive? Will it help the guest to orientate himself with the wardrobe, take things, suggest the best table, tell you where to wash your hands and immediately serve the menu without delay? Or maybe a guest with a small child who needs to be offered a special highchair, a children's set with passive games (for example, a minimal set of crayons and a coloring book), introduce them to the game, if any, and make a present in order to win the affection of one of the most influential agents of influence (a separate topic is devoted to the important role of young guests with a large number of cases where the "child" helped bring a variety of establishments back to life).

So, the guest will be received as it should be to meet a guest at home with attention and smiles, or he will be left alone with numerous small questions in a new place for him. As guests write in their reviews of friendly places: "Today I had breakfast with a friend, and when we entered the restaurant, the waitress's soulful smile on her face practically made my morning." When it comes to selling, smiling always works, a fact supported by consumer behavior research. The smiles of the contact area employees affect both the cost of the average check and the total number of repeat visits. How it works? If the guest is comfortable, the length of their stay is increased, which means there is an opportunity to eat and drink more over a longer period. And if the waiter establishes good friendly contact with the guest, he can easily make recommendations that the guest is more likely to listen to. And, of course, guests willingly return to a pleasant place.

In fact, a smile doesn't even have to be very personal to have an impact. Its power is so great that a conditional presence in itself increases the likelihood of a good sale. Research by Peter Winckelmann of the University of California, San Diego and Kent S. Berridge of the University of Michigan found that even images of a subconscious smile can have a significant impact. Researchers showed one group of subjects photographs of faces that were frowning, not smiling, and the other - faces with sincere and neutral smiles for 16 milliseconds each. This was enough to recognize the face and determine its gender (which the subjects were supposed to do), while the attention was not focused on the presence or absence of smiles. An important result was that the group, which was shown happy faces, actively poured themselves the offered drinks and in the second phase of the study was willing to pay for them about twice as much as the other group. This is the price of a smile.

What else increases sales at the establishment? The right flavors - this rule applies not only to increasing spontaneous demand through the use of external aromatization, but it is also very important to create the right atmosphere inside. One small but interesting study measured the sales of alcoholic beverages in a bar. The same drink was promoted into two groups: one of them was exposed to a visual advertisement and a flavoring with the scent of the drink, and the second was influenced only by a visual advertisement located in the bar. Measurements with the purchasing activity of the first group (using scent marketing tools) showed almost twice as many sales.

Step 3

You sit down. The type of sitting a guest sits on directly influences his behavior when he is just having dinner or spending time socializing. Is it a soft seat or a hard one? The type of seating does not affect how much he enjoys the food, but rather how much he enjoys his company. Why soft seating is important for serving diners. Hard seating will make clients feel the tension in their own body and the discomfort of the stress of his company. And the soft seats relax the body of the guest himself and those who are with him at the same table, making each of them feel general comfort and warm atmosphere. The better their memories are later, the more likely they will want to experience this sensation again.

Research by Joshua M. Ackerman (MIT), Christopher S. Nocher (Harvard), and John Barg (Yale University) found that "hard things increase bargaining power." One of a series of experiments involved negotiating a simulated vehicle value, in which the subject was required to make a price offer for the vehicle, which was rejected. Then the "buyer" had to make a second offer. The subjects were also asked to rate the negotiating partner. The researchers found that there was a significant difference between the subjects sitting in hard and soft chairs. Those in the hard chairs rated their negotiating partner as less emotional. Most importantly, the “buyers” of soft seats increased their offer by almost 40% more than the buyers of hard chairs. In short, the hard chair not only changed buyers' perceptions of their negotiating partners, but also made them tougher negotiators.

Step 4

The guest examines the menu and is determined with the order. This is my favorite stage. The guest looks at the menu and thinks: “Should I take a seabass or lamb chops? Perhaps Carbonaru today? " First it scans through all the menus, then it is determined with a choice. The menu will help him decide what to eat, how much to eat, and whether to leave room for dessert. A well thought out menu definitely influences the decisions of the guests. I will share a few techniques that we used in our work.

The first thing to look at is the font. A lot depends on which font is used, from the impressions of the guests to how they will perceive the information. So, for example, if we were faced with the task of creating an image of a premium establishment with a special chef, so that guests associate the restaurant with luxury, we used more complex fancy fonts. If, on the contrary, we wanted to emphasize its democratic format in an expensive establishment, we purposefully used simple fonts, emphasizing accessibility. In a study on cognitive influence, Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwartz of the University of Michigan found that restaurant menus are one of the ways in which type influences perceptions of value and quality. The researchers presented subjects with a description of the same menu item, printed in a simpler type that was more difficult to read. Subjects who saw the complex script rated the chef's skill significantly higher than those who saw the simple script. However, when designing menus, we have always been careful about the degree of complication, realizing that fancy fonts require more effort from the eyes, so this could distract some people from reading the entire menu. Everything should be in moderation and for the intended purpose.

The second is the descriptions of the dishes. Using emotion-rich adjectives to describe food on a menu can increase sales and increase customer satisfaction. Research shows that properly used adjectives do increase income. According to research by American food psychologist Brian Wansink, vivid descriptions not only encourage a purchase, but also increase satisfaction at the end of a meal compared to the same meal without a descriptor. He studied the effect of menu descriptions and found that they increased sales by as much as 27%. Of course, in relation to this tool, the measure of its use is also important. The description should be tasty, succinct and concise. No one will read a long descriptor, otherwise a cursory study of the menu instead of the traditional 5 minutes may turn into reading a cookbook.

Third, how do we display prices? In our practice, when compiling the menu, we refused to mention complex large numbers with decimal places after the decimal point, rounding the number so that it was visually short in writing, and did not indicate currency signs. This approach was driven by our practical observation of the reactions of guests to the options for writing prices and their perception of upcoming spending. Thus, the absence of currency symbols reduced the tension of the guests about the future value of the final check and, in a sense, lulls their vigilance, which was reflected in the growth of sales, in particular, of expensive dishes according to the guests' assessment. Compare your own perception of price: £ 1250,90 or 1250? Which spelling would be more comfortable for you?

We especially took into account the factor of influence of numbers on the perception of the guest when working with foreign guests, if the institution was oriented towards foreign tourists. We had many projects in Belarus and Kazakhstan, and we could observe how the perception of the value of the check of foreign guests, for example, by the Russian audience, is changing. Let's take as an example the identical cost of a typical dish in Minsk, Moscow restaurants and Nur-Sultan and send our potential guest from Russia on a business trip. So, if in a Minsk restaurant carbonara pasta would cost him 17BYN on average, in Nur-Sultan it would cost 15 600 KZT. And this is all the same 520 rubles, and what a different perception of the price. Where do you think the guest will pay more than usual, considering that everything is very affordable? And where will he carefully recalculate the cost and save?

To prevent the guest from saving money and not getting hung up on the price, translating each dish according to the exchange rate (thereby reducing the likelihood of ordering expensive dishes), we recommended that Kazakhstani establishments we worked with should make a Russified menu with adapted ruble prices and indicated tenge in brackets. Thus, the guests saw their usual pricing and were not afraid of the unusual number of zeros for them. We did the same in tourist regions for foreign guests, translating, for example, ruble prices into USD, because coffee for $ 2 looks much more attractive than 140 rubles. Of course, we understand that everyone knows how to count and convert, but least of all when developing a menu, an institution is interested in the guest counting his money and thinking about the budget. Our goal is to impress, excite emotions and appetite.

And, fourthly, I want to share my most favorite manipulative tool - the photo menu. High-quality food compositions help guests to see all the richness of the cuisine, the author's presentation and the volume of dishes. The guest does not need to ponder over the complex author's names, read the descriptions, translate grams into volumes for himself in order to understand whether he is full. The guest wants to see what his dish looks like and what it is, for example, chicken breast stewed in hay with potato dumplings and fried oyster mushrooms, served with buckwheat popcorn and béchamel sauce. Or what looks like pike cutlets stuffed with spiced oil, served with vegetable puree and crayfish bisque sauce. And certainly the guest does not want to think about the value of these figures 120/100/60/50 / 5g, but if he is not shown the dish, he will be forced to count. While he is reading letters, adding numbers, the guest loses patience, and we are a generous guest.

A photograph of the dish helps the guest to imagine what he is going to eat without even trying it. Research shows that photographs taken correctly are so effective that they can create false memories. Thus, Nicole Montgomery (College of William and Mary) conducted experiments on three groups. The first group was shown photographs and asked to taste the author's popcorn dish, the second group was offered only colorful photographs, and the third was shown photographs of low quality. One week later, all study participants were interviewed. Surprisingly, the members of the second group who viewed the high-quality, vibrant photographs were as likely to report that they had tried the product as the first group to actually tried it. And, as expected, the third group with low image quality gave the weakest and often negative reviews.

Everything depends on the quality of the photos. Poor color rendering can literally kill a dish, meat can, instead of appetizing with a golden crust in life, turn gray in the photo. We have seen many times the influence of high-quality photographs on food sales. In general, this is such a large topic that it deserves a separate description - now I still want to walk the client's path, show where he encounters obstacles and what can potentially demotivate him.

So, for example, in one gastro-cafe, complex author's dishes from the chef confidently stood in category C (according to the ABC analysis of sales volume) and were candidates for departure, but after changing the menu they moved to category A. What was wrong with the previous one? It somehow combined everything that I do not recommend doing: small edged photos of dishes (in squares of 4 cm), gray-green pale color rendition, the price is brought to the forefront of the guest's attention, long boring descriptions of dishes. With such a design, the dish was practically invisible, it was impossible to evaluate its advantages, and the color rendition significantly distorted the real color of the products. So, we replaced the edged menu with a food composition, in which a set table (6-9 dishes on a spread) is photographed from above. Lively and juicy color rendition emphasized the merits of each dish, and decorative elements enhanced the experience. This approach made it possible to demonstrate an attractive presentation, author's performance, the volume of dishes and add elements that stimulate interest (for example, next to the antipasti, we placed glasses of wine to whet the guest's appetite). As a result, from the very first day, as soon as we put the menu in a new version to the guests, sales of previously unpopular dishes soared, namely, the most expensive items in the author's presentation. The guests appreciated the work of the chef at its true worth, and we increased the sales of the whole establishment by 35%. The menu is the most important promotional tool at the point of last contact.

Step 5

The guest makes an order. And as a customer, he wants to get exactly what he ordered. I mean, the last thing you want is something you didn't order. Especially when you are in a big company. Therefore, it is important that the waiter repeats the guest's order in order to make sure that he memorized or recorded everything correctly. The guest may have special wishes, for example, to cook something without herbs, without onions, without mayonnaise (there may be an allergic reaction to some ingredients), there may be wishes for the sequence of serving, and so on - it is important not to miss anything. Repetition of the order verbatim not only calms customers down, but also leads to an increase in the tip they pay.

I would like to cite as an example several interesting experiments mentioned in the book “The Psychology of Persuasion. 50 Evidence-Based Ways To Be Persuasive ”by Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin. The authors argued that repeating a customer's order word for word creates the impression that the waiter and the customer are somewhat similar. And we humans tend to trust and sympathize with those who are like us. Research by the psychologist Rick van Baaren mentioned in the book tested the idea of ​​the influence of the verbal mirroring technique. So, in one experiment, waiters increased their tips by almost 70% only due to the fact that when repeating orders they did it verbatim, and not paraphrasing, not nodding silently, not getting off with the standard “OK”.

Why does mirroring another person stimulate such generosity? Social psychologist John Barg, who has explored the role of the unconscious, argued that juxtaposing other people's behavior creates feelings of sympathy and strengthens bonds. Perhaps this is due to our natural tendency to give preference to people like us. In one experiment, a researcher created a situation in which two people had short conversations, with one of the participants being a research assistant. In half of the cases, the researcher mirrored the posture and behavior of the other participant. In the other half of the cases, he behaved naturally. As a result, it was revealed that negotiations with the private traders mirrored were much more efficient. The researcher seemed to them to be a very pleasant, good-looking person who could be trusted. On the whole, from their point of view, the negotiations went smoothly and comfortably, on a wave of mutual understanding. Likewise, waiters who verbally mirror their guests are likely to generate more sympathy. We tend to say yes to those we like.

Step 6

Finally, here we got to food. The guest is having lunch. Which dish did he choose? Is it an expensive dish? the cheapest? We must remember that the more the guest pays, the higher their pleasure will be. It is worth noting that this happens on a subconscious level. In fact, you don’t think so, they say, I bought an expensive dish, and therefore I will enjoy it more intensely. This concept is called the "placebo price" and is explained in a famous experiment showing how much you like wine based on how expensive it is. Researchers at Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology have demonstrated that people's brains are more pleased when they think they are drinking $ 45 wine instead of a $ 5 bottle, even if they are actually the same wine.

Knowing this, how can you influence the choice of the guest and give him more pleasure, given that the restaurant cannot force the guest to choose an expensive dish? The best way to influence a relatively expensive position is to place it in the middle. And for mid-budget guests, we added even cheaper positions, thereby raising the status of their choice. As a result, everyone got pleasure from the conditionally expensive choice.

Step 7

The guest pays the bill. At this stage, it is important to consider that spending money can be painful for all of us. One of the key advances in neuroeconomics and neuromarketing research has made it clear that a purchase can trigger a pain center in our brain. The best way to ease the pain is by making it easier to pay with a credit card or better yet, any mobile payment.

The pain arises when a guest takes money out of their wallet and spends it. Less pain - when he takes out a credit card, because at this moment he does not actually get money and does not count it. It’s even better when you don’t need to take out your wallet at all, and instead the guest uses the phone. A credit card reduces pain by transferring value into the future, therefore, it not only allows you to pay for something without cash, but also changes the scale. Conversely, the calculation of cash forces a more careful assessment of the cost and amount of "damage". The brain weighs the pain against the gain from the acquisition.

So, if the service and food in the establishment were at the level and the guest enjoyed it, then the negative from spending at the end can be compensated. If, at the same time, it is still possible to eliminate the stress factor in the calculation, then the level of pleasure will remain maximum. This is important to note for establishments that deliberately ask guests to pay in cash.

Next comes the question of tip. Depending on which country you live in, the rules for paying tips will be different. In some countries there is an unspoken rule that a certain percentage of the bill must be paid as a tip, while in other countries this is not the norm and the client decides how much he wants. Typically, the amount that a guest leaves for a tip is directly proportional to how satisfied he was as a client. If the guest is delighted, he is very generous. If the team was relaxed and uninterested, then the guest will think ten times if such work really deserves a reward.

For example, in Kazakhstan, in particular in Nur-Sultan, in most establishments 10% of the service charge is included in the check price (this is a spontaneously formed unwritten rule). Our experience of canceling this obligatory payment for guests of establishments with which we worked has shown not, stimulated not only an increase in the loyalty of guests, but also an increase in tips themselves, since no one obliged the guests and it was their own choice, depending only on the quality of the restaurant team's work. In our practice, we had a lot of illustrative examples of the generosity of guests who were very pleased with the work of the institution. These included tips, the cost of the check itself, and even very generous bonuses. So, in my practice, there was an illustrative case when a group of guests left in an institution the cost of the budget for a trip to Cuba for a waitress and made sure that the restaurant manager sent her there. This, of course, is a rare story, but it only confirms that there is no need to oblige guests to be generous. Guests themselves know when and who deserves a promotion.
In general, how we can compensate for the unpleasant emotions of the guests when parting with their money is to make a symbolic gift. So we always put nice little sugary treats in checkboxes, counters, and check-holders that served as a great finish.
In the book “The Psychology of Persuasion. 50 Evidence-Based Ways to Be Persuasive ”, which I mentioned earlier, was about an interesting experiment by the behaviorist David Stromz, who and his colleagues conducted an experiment to determine the effect of giving guests some candy at the end of a meal. In one test group, one candy was put into check-boxes for each visitor. The researchers found an increase in tips - not a huge one, but still a 3,3% increase. In the second, two sweets were already given to each visitor. Despite the fact that it was just an extra candy, the tip was 14,1% higher than the group that was not given anything. This is all fairly predictable, given what we know about the norm of reciprocity - the more a person gives us, the more we feel obligated. But what factors make a gift or service truly effective?

The experiment with the third group gave even more interesting results. The guests were first given one candy to each, and then the waiter, as if leaving the table, stopped, came back and reported more candy from his apron pocket. It was a gesture as if from myself, as if it were personally for these guests, who especially liked the waiter. Result? Increase in tip by 23%.

Step 8

The guest leaves and, either he shares this place with his surroundings, or not. What can you do to get a guest to post a positive review? The rule of reciprocity can be used. There are many ways, each of them is consistent with a specific audience and concept of the establishment. In practice, we used different solutions to stimulate good reviews, for example, we gave desserts and various handmade gifts, which made the guests a natural desire to write about it. We created the environment through fashionable instapoints (photo zones) so that guests would like to take photos and post them with appropriate comments. Among the guests who took selfies in the institution and published them on social networks, we held contests and awarded the winners with delicious gifts and so on. Basically, we stimulated reviews simply by quality service. For example, one of the establishments we worked with was approached by a client from Canada with a request to organize a 65th birthday celebration for her mother. The client who called us admitted that she had not seen her parents for a long time, she missed them very much, but could not come on this important day and that the parents would be a modest company together. We helped organize the delivery of gifts and flowers at the right time, presented a festive dessert from the establishment and the whole team sang songs to her, lit fireworks. The whole hall of guests sang with us. As I told the waiters that evening, setting them up for the correct work with these guests: "You and I are the hands, voices and eyes of the very daughter who lives across the ocean and wants to be there today." I remember they answered: "They are counting on us - and we will not let you down." And there was also a touching moment that evening, when I and the owner of the restaurant were already leaving, I noticed that the heroes of the day tried together with a huge bouquet to take a selfie against the background of the evening facade and they did not really succeed. We parked, got out of the car, and the hostess offered to help them, modestly not introducing herself. And I, since we talked with these guests all evening, introduced them to the main culprit of all their pleasures. It ended with the guests embracing her from both sides and did not want to let her go for a long time. It seemed to me that they were hugging their daughter at that moment. Needless to say, we received a lot of positive feedback and that they became our regular guests. But the main thing is that I still remember their faces.

This is the customer journey. At every stage, every company has a chance to create incredible experiences by applying simple principles of consumer behavior. Can you do a great job every time with every client? Of course yes. Did we then with the parents of our client from Canada do something extraordinary that cannot be repeated with everyone? Is it necessary for all top management to work in the hall in order for guests to leave filled with hospitality? Of course not. It is not necessary to stand at the machine every time and direct the process, surrounding with the attention of the client, guest, patient. However, in order to prescribe standards and teach employees correctly, it is important to go through the client's path and take into account all the points, weaknesses and important stages where we can either forever lose this chance to be the best for him and his environment, or win his recognition.

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