What I Don’t Know About Being Like the Bell

Ashley and I made a late night stop at the Taco Bell drive-through, as one does after going to see Duran Duran and Chic in concert. Or any concert.

Always looking to turn every experience into a learning one, the quick trip to Taco Bell got me thinking:

In your interactions with people, especially when you are in service to them, be like Taco Bell. Give them more sauce than you think they’ll need.

I don’t know if it’s true for every area, but around here, if you say you want sauce Taco Bell gives you a whole bunch of it. We always have more than we need, and that’s with me sometimes using two or even three on an individual taco. We keep what we don’t use right away and pretty much always have some packets in the fridge. It’s not often, but I have used some on other food at home.

When someone comes to you for something, I suggest you give them more than they ask for. More attention. More time. More effort. Surprise them with your willingness to casually provide more help than they might expect. Don’t limit your output to the bare basics of what you believe will satisfy them. Give a little extra.

I see this applying especially to business, but definitely not only.

This is something highly successful people do. Extremely successful businesses as well.

A customer interaction in which the consumer needs a product or service and is provided exactly what they ask for is perfectly satisfactory. But is it memorable? Does it inspire the customer to tell others, to keep the business top of mind, or to even return?

Consistent good service can lead to customer loyalty, certainly. Might exceeding expectations do better at creating fans?

It’s been said before (and was even repeated just yesterday at my workplace) that successful businesses don’t sell products or services, they sell experiences. I submit that an abundant sauce experience is better than a one-packet experience.

Considering Taco Bell’s policy of generous condiment delivery, I can’t help comparing it to the experience at other fast food drive-throughs. Most don’t even ask, as they do at Taco Bell, whether you would like condiments. There’s no offer, so the responsibility lands on the customer to ask, beg, or demand some. Then when they are given, it’s in the most minimal amounts.

Having operated a cafe that was awarded “Most Profitable” in the company (twice!), I certainly understand gross margin, and I get why places might keep tight controls on their goods. I also understand customer experience, though. Small measures of goodwill — and, conversely, the smallest bits of stinginess — can swell to create huge, often unexpected impact. “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” can work in positive fashion as well as negative.

The extra you give could be anything. A token, a bonus item; extra effort to go above and beyond; reassurance and affirmation. Being especially generous with your gratitude can be the greatest thing you can give.

Sure, not everyone keeps the extra, leftover sauce packets. Some people will discard the excess. But that’s for them to decide. If you freely give what you have to offer in abundance to everyone, what does it hurt you? You will be rewarded anyway. Trust me.

 

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