Portrayal of unexpected CX encounters

Portrayal of unexpected CX encounters

The hospitality industry epitomizes a realm where customers often perceive any service rendered to them as insufficient. Conversely, from the perspective of service providers, there's an innate desire to offer every conceivable treatment that can enhance a customer's sense of value without seeming unjust. Ultimately, in this domain, the product being sold is the Customer Experience (CX) itself.

When CX comes in surprises

I'd like to share a remarkable personal encounter that left me in awe of exceptional customer experience (CX). Back in the days when I was launching a small experimental startup, I sought a fixed-line phone for our operations. Given our modest beginnings, pulling a copper cable for traditional phone services seemed impractical. At that time, UTL was offering CDMA phones for approximately 3000 Nepalese Rupees.

Upon completing the purchase and preparing to leave, the salesperson unexpectedly called out to me. To my surprise, they handed me a converter multiplug along with my purchase. This gesture was beyond my expectations. The salesperson explained that the standard three-pin connector provided by the manufacturer wasn't commonly used in Nepal. At that moment, I wasn't anticipating such thoughtfulness, nor was I concerned about whether the cost of the multiplug was already factored into the bill.

When CX completely ruins the moment

In contrast to the positive encounter I shared earlier, I experienced three instances of notably poor customer experiences at three different restaurants. Despite hospitality being a prominent aspect of their service, these encounters left much to be desired. For confidentiality, I won't mention the names of these establishments.

1 - Some Kiosk at Labim Mall

A few of us were at Labim Mall, engaged in a business discussion on a scorching summer day. Seeking relief from the heat, we decided to indulge in some refreshing ice cream. The food court's layout featured chairs and tables dispersed among various stalls. After purchasing our treats, we chose to occupy seats adjacent to the ice cream stall.

Unexpectedly, a young person approached us, insisting that we try something from their stall, which served hot items. Not wishing to order anything else at that moment, we politely declined. However, the individual abruptly asserted ownership of the seating area, implying that unless we ordered from their stall, we weren't permitted to occupy the seats.

While we understood the rules regarding table allocation, the presumption that customers should inherently know these regulations, especially when the tables and chairs looked similar across stalls, felt unjust. A courteous explanation or a simple clarification about the seating policy would have sufficed, rather than assuming that customers were aware of the specific rules.

The Kiosk lost a potential customer for a lifetime.

2 - A Fine Dining Restaurant in Patan

I used to frequent this restaurant mainly for its scenic cityscape view, the friendly staff, and its convenient location, even though the food options were quite limited and specific, not catering to general tastes.

During a lunch meeting one day, we ordered vegetable Momos. Although I considered myself a flexible vegetarian, not as strict as some others, I didn't mind occasional deviations.

To my surprise, when the food arrived, my colleague noticed it wasn't veg Momos but chicken Momos on the plate. When this was brought to the attention of our usually friendly waitress, she bluntly retorted, "Chicken bhannu bhayeko hoina?" which translates to "Didn't you ask for chicken?" If I had stricter dietary principles and had taken a bite, the situation could have been quite disastrous. For some individuals, encountering such a breach of their moral or dietary beliefs can be highly distressing, even leading to strong emotional reactions or, in extreme cases, escalating to violent behavior.

Later, she audaciously added, "Paila paila ta khaanu hunthyo," meaning "I've seen you eating it before." I was taken aback by her statement. What surprised me further was the manager's silence on the matter, and no adjustment was made to the bill for the order that was never placed.

Following this incident, my visits to the restaurant decreased significantly.

During a celebration marking the closure of a project, our group of colleagues indulged in drinks and an abundant array of food. Initially, we had ordered a dish, let's call it X, multiple times. However, at a certain point, we realized that we had enough of that particular dish and opted to explore other items on the menu.

An additional dish, presumably an error in the Kitchen Order Ticket (KOT), was prepared by the chef. Recognizing it wasn't part of our order, we politely informed the staff and requested that it be taken back. Our collective bill for food and drinks had already reached around 10,000 NRs. If it had been a dish we ordered or if any of us had been interested, it might not have been an issue.

Shortly after, a senior waiter returned with the dish and insisted that we accept it. This insistence became intolerable, and eventually, the waiter became visibly upset that we didn't consider accepting the dish.

As someone who had previously recommended the restaurant to others, this experience led to the loss of future frequencies of a potential frequent customer—a sizable group that could have become regular patrons of the establishment.

At one of my beloved restaurants, I encountered another incident. I faced difficulty finishing a dish due to its nature (acknowledging that dishes vary across restaurants). Hoping to enhance the experience, I politely asked the waiter if an alternate sauce could be provided to help me complete the meal. Surprisingly, this simple request was treated as an enormous ask, prompting me to escalate the matter to the manager, emphasizing how a small act of courtesy could brighten a customer's experience.

It's undeniable that not every customer behaves identically. However, when there's a regular frequency of visits or when a customer consistently contributes to higher sales, the expectations slightly differ.

While maintaining equal treatment for all customers regarding products and services, the level of personalized courtesy may vary based on individual customer relationships. In my article on LR3—the consumer journey funnel, I have explored how customers progress through stages, forming deep loyalty or alignment with a service or product. This understanding is crucial in building lasting relationships and fostering customer loyalty.