Today, not only do I have a guest post at Al Smith Jr’s place because I C.A.R.E. I have the distinct pleasure of having Jens Berget at my place for my sporadic ghost in the post series. Jens has become a great friend and even tolerates me making fun of his Euro style bathing suit; which he is prone to show off, but that’s why we call him ‘big sexy’. You can find Jens just about any day at Slymarketing where you will always be educated and entertained. Please take the time to enjoy this post and pay him a visit as well.
Elton John was right, sorry seems to be the hardest word. This is especially true when it comes to business. It seems to be difficult for someone to say sorry and confess that they messed up. I believe that it’s because if they do say sorry, and confess that they messed up, they think that they’ll lose money. But that’s not true, in fact, if they start saying sorry, they’ll start earning a lot more.
Let me explain why, by giving you two fairly similar examples. This story happened to me within one week while I visited two different restaurants.
Another pizza marketing story
Bill is probably thinking that I’m nuts talking about pizza all the time. The story about how the pizza delivery guy gave me a ride home, was how it all started. But I’m not an addict, I’m doing it because it’s personal and there’s usually something to learn from it (and I love pizza).
Don’t get me wrong. This story is not really about the pizza.
I was hungry, and I phoned a restaurant and ordered a pizza. My wife drove to the restaurant and walked inside to get the pizza. I was at home with my kids, cleaning the kitchen, lightning candles, and making it all nice for our dinner. We were going to eat it at home. When she arrived at the restaurant, the waiter told her that they’ve made a huge mistake and that the pizza was ruined (the guy making the pizza had forgotten to take it out of the pizza oven in time, so it was a little too crispy).
Now, they could have just given her the messed up pizza, and that wouldn’t have been the first time we’ve experienced something like that from a restaurant. But what they did was amazing. They told her that if she could just wait for 15 minutes, she would get the pizza for free, free sauce (maybe this is a Norwegian thing, but we have sauce on everything), and they gave her free Coca-Cola or coffee while she waited. They turned a bad experience into something extraordinary, something I’ll continue to tell people about.
Even though I eat a lot of pizza, I didn’t have any prior experience with this restaurant.
Another restaurant in another town
Later that week, just a few days after this experience, my family and I visited another town, fairly close to where we live.
This time, my family and I arrived at a completely different restaurant where I ended up ordering… you’ve probably already guessed it – pizza. But that’s not the point. While eating, what happened was that my daughter, she’s eight, spilled her Fanta. She spilled everything. It was Fanta all over the table, on her clothes, on the chair, on the floor. I believe it was on her food as well.
My daughter started crying. My son started laughing, he’s five. My wife and I did our best to control the situation.
What did the people working in the restaurant do?
They offered paper towels. That was it. And, after we’ve cleaned everything, we had to buy another Fanta for her. And now, after we finished cleaning everything, the food was cold.
At the time, all I was thinking was, why didn’t they just give her a free Fanta? Why didn’t they comfort her? Why didn’t they help out, and turn her embarrassing situation into something remarkable?
My daughter messed up. They didn’t. And I understand that as parents, we should expect things like this to happen, and things like this happen all the time. We did our best. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t the first time, and not the last time. But the thing is, this situation didn’t benefit the restaurant at all, unless their business is all about short term. Because short term, they benefited. We had to pay for an extra Fanta, and that was probably $4 (it’s expensive in Norway). But hey, if I had spread the word about their awesome food and service, they would have earned a lot more than the $4.
If they had turned out to be remarkable, and remarkable isn’t usually just about the food, I would have returned again and again, with my family, friends and co-workers.
To me, any business, no matter what type of business, is about people, and the relationship to people. The food should be awesome, that’s right, but it’s not usually why I return. I continue to buy their service because I have a relationship to the people working there. And making my daughter laugh would have created such a relationship.
I believe that my experience can be used in any business, and that you’ve probably experienced something similar, because we all have, haven’t we?
Your daughter didn’t spill the Fanta, but it might be another situation in another business, and it was all your fault. What happened, and what did the business do about it? That’s the question.
Marketing is not about traditional advertising, not anymore, marketing is about being remarkable, and building strong relationships.