Eating Out: The Customer Journey

March 29, 2022

“The Customer Journey” may sound lofty and intimidating, but it’s not.

So you can relax.

If you’ve ever been to a restaurant, then the customer journey will be easy as pie for you, but that’s dessert and we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

If you’ve never been to a restaurant, then frankly you should reach out to TLC because they’ll give you a TV show and I’d like a small cut for the idea please.

So we’re at a restaurant. Go ahead and name it if you like. I’ll wait.

Awareness:

I have no idea how you came to know of this restaurant. Catchy jingle? Flashy neon sign? Or maybe more familiar means - Facebook ads, SEO optimization, and if they’re really doing things right, word of mouth.

However you got there, you’re inside their restaurant and you’re probably hungry.

They better send a server to say hello and introduce you to the restaurant.

This is the welcome flow.

Consideration:

Your server said hello, pointed out the washrooms, and described today’s specials. What you really need now is more information to make the right choice. Thankfully the waiter arrived with menus for you to look through. He promised he’ll be back in a couple minutes to answer any questions about anything that catches your eye and perhaps even make a suggestion or two.

The welcome flow lives here, too. Awareness and consideration often happen all in one fell swoop and the welcome flow both greets and educates your customer, always inviting them to place their order if they’re ready.

This is also where your abandoned cart and browse abandon flows live. You know they’re interested, and something is giving them pause. Try to predict and address those issues and then maybe grease the wheels with a discount code.

Purchase & Service:

The server has been back and forth to address your questions and bring you drinks and finally, after much consideration, deliberation, and a single tear trickling down your cheek, you’ve made your decision.

It’s fettuccine alfredo or chicken fingers, right? Fuckin’ knew it.

Now, some folk will split this part of the journey into two: purchase and post purchase, but much like a restaurant, it usually kind of happens all at the same time (albeit triggered and scheduled).

So you tell the server you want your chicken fingers and what does your server do?

He tells you that’s a really great choice.

He then asks if you want to add bacon and cheese. You say no because it’s chicken fingers and that’s stupid, but then you reconsider and add bacon because bacon.

He then suggests maybe adding chili and cheese to those fries, and you realize that maybe cheese does have a place on your plate.

He tells you what a good choice it was to add bacon to your chicken and chili-cheese to your fries, and he asks if you want to think about dessert now or later. He doesn’t mention this, but he’s always thinking about a bigger slice of the pie.

He then repeats your order to you with an added dash of excitement. Then he disappears behind a creaky greasy hinged door with a round, clouded window and out the back door for a cigarette while you sip your fishbowl of sangria and fantasize about your forthcoming bacon.

In summary: He accepted your order, offered appropriate add-ons, and made you so excited about it all that not only are you going to be jazzed when it arrives, but you’ve also forgotten that you’re on a crackers-and-cheese-only diet (or whatever doubts might arise).

You’ll accomplish the same with your post purchase, post delivery, and cross sell/upsell flows. Remind them how smart of a choice they made, hype them up about their order, and give ‘em something else to buy.

Loyalty:

Your server has checked on you to make sure your food was satisfactory. You wanted to tell him about the veganism thing, but you were so happy with his service and the bacon tasted so good that you just ate your meal and smiled. But the cheese on your fries was sparse and - it’s not even like you to do this - you pointed it out. He immediately had them remade for you with more cheese.

He knows that happy people come back, and he wants to be sure you’re happy.

He also wants to make sure you remember your visit, and that you tell your friends. He’s always thinking about that pie.

That’s why when your date lied to him and said it’s your birthday, all he did was wink and nod.

Then - while you considered dessert - the record scratched, a choir of servers arrived with sparklers erupting, and a big dumb hat landed on your head. They sang their own version of Happy Birthday, dropped off a humongous hunk of chocolate cake, and left you with a Polaroid of your ugly mug in a big dumb hat.

Loyalty is about occupying the top of your customer’s mind when they think about your space, and you accomplish that first by having excellent products or services, and then by encouraging them to talk about and engage with your business. Loyalty programs, review campaigns, social media outreach, and general good vibes.

The End (sort of)

Then you leave.

And next Friday you have to decide where to have dinner.

You’re already aware of this restaurant.

You’ve already considered their menu (but a refresher would be nice).

You’re confident in ordering.

You trust your server’s suggestions.

They can’t possibly do the birthday thing two weeks in a row.

The journey is never over. It’s always cycling through, but each time is a little bit easier, a little bit smoother, and a little bit more comfortable.

When you recognize and leverage your customer’s journey, you can hold their hand and guide them through it. You know where it ends, even if they don’t necessarily see it coming. When you send the right message at the right time, your customers will arrive at your destination, give you their money, and feel like it was all their idea from the start.

Just like dessert.

Ready to take off?