Want To Create Customer Delight? Heston Reads Your Mind!

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Customer Delight is all about surprising customers with the level of service you provide – positively of course! It’s about exceeding their expectations, and  that means different things for different customers. Scarily, in some sectors, doing things on time, on budget and with a smile exceeds expectations because no one else is doing it!

The challenge for many businesses is to establish what those expectations are in the first place, but how to do that? Well, here’s an innovative approach from ‘celebrity chef’ Heston Blumenthal – he reads his customers’ minds!



When you book into his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire his team do ‘covert research’ on you to surprise you with dishes tailored to your nostalgic feelings about food! As well as asking questions when you make your booking, they also conduct online research about you. To help build consistency into their approach, they compile dossiers about their returning customers!

According to The Times, the Dramatically and Demonstrably Different chef, who is renowned for dishes like his snail porridge and bacon-and-egg-flavour ice cream, says that he is interested in serving food in the manner of a story, taking inspiration from his own memories of food on holidays in Cornwall as a child.  Apparently, he has consulted with the illusionist Derren Brown to find out ways of finding out about customers without them knowing as he questions them!

It’s an innovative and interesting approach. Our research suggests that the 6 Ingredients Of Customer Delight are:

  • It produces a wow reaction!
  • It’s spontaneous or unexpected!
  • It’s the personal touch!
  • It makes the customer feel valued!
  • It’s genuine… and…
  • It creates a ‘talking point’!

Now, I’m sure it does that – the challenge is clearly about making it feel ‘genuine’! Finding out personal details about customers can be a great way of personalising the customer experience and exceeding their expectations. I love it when people ‘remember’ little snippets about me. I remember once turning up at a client’s office for the first time in about six months after we’d done some customer care training there. Amanda, the office junior greeted me with a smile and said ‘Hi Andy, good trip from Sheffield?’ I was impressed she was expecting me and remembered where I was from. ‘John will be with you in a minute, would you like a cup of coffee?’ ‘Yes please’ I replied. ‘It’s coffee, black, no sugar, isn’t it?’ She said! ‘Yes, it is…!!!’ I said ‘How did you know?’ ‘It’s my job to know!’ she replied with a smile and went off to get my coffee! Turns out, she had a little card index system with the details of all her ‘visitors’ – the training obviously worked!

However, I do also remember when a sales guy came to see me and told me that it was 3 months 17 days since we last met – apparently it was sunny in the morning, but a bit cloudy in the afternoon that day. He then asked me about my holidays and I told him that they were ages ago – turns out they were 3 months 14 days ago – just after we’d met. He knew where I’d been, where I’d flown from, and who I went with! The conversation then went on about my girlfriend’s problems getting to the airport because I was in Newcastle, she was in Manchester and her dad couldn’t take here because he was working ‘nights’!!!! It felt that this guy was either recording my telephone calls, opening my mail, or emptying my bins – it was scary stuff!



So, rather than ‘reading minds’, here are some simple examples of ‘personalising’ the approach that I’ve seen…

  1. I saw this and thought of you….. A simple email with, or link to, some useful information, advice or an idea (Do NOT send any marketing material or try to ‘sell them something!)
  2. We were expecting you…. The reception team know who know who’s coming to the office so they can greet people and let them know they were expected.
  3. ‘Get Personal’… Include ps’s in your correspondence that relates to something specific about them
  4. Thank You Cards… Not necessarily birthday cards – they can work if there’s a ‘relationship’ there (certainly not cards at Christmas with photocopied signatures of people your customers don’t know)!, but maybe ‘Thank you – you’ve now been a customer of ours for 12 months / 2 years / 3 years etc.’
  5. Give Me Space!… Reserve car parking spaces for visitors and put their names on them! Preferably as near the reception door as possible. Nothing more annoying than a sign that says ‘Parking reserved for Directors and senior staff only’ (Translation: ‘Customer- you’re not important, please clear off down the road’!)
  6. “Hello John, How Are You?’…. Imagine calling your lawyer and when she answers the phone and she says ‘Hello John, how are you?…..” (obviously, if you’re called John!) A law firm we know have their clients’ caller IDs installed and recognise their clients when they call! They seem particularly impressed that it happens at a law firm (maybe because their past experiences of lawyers means their ‘expectations’ aren’t too high!
  7. Thank-you-in-many-languages‘Great To See You!’…. The ‘personalised’ sign in reception with your name on it that says ‘Thanks very much for visiting us today!’ Even more impressive ‘Great to see you AGAIN’! if you’re a ‘returner’ (It shows they remember you!)
  8. “Merci, Danke, Gracias”…. The team at Chimo Holdings,  a business here in Sheffield who manufacture and export the finest quality cutlery all over the world have learnt how to say Thanks for you order’ in over 60 different languages, and drop a little note inside the packaging of all their despatched goods with the appropriate ‘Thank You’ hand written on it. Message to the customer? We value you, and your order.
  9. “Plink Plink Fizz!”…. We were staying for a friend’s wedding at a hotel in North Yorkshire and as well as all the normal ‘toiletries’ in the bathroom, they’d laid on two packets of Alka Seltzas  with a little handwritten note saying ‘Have a great stay – you might need these in the morning! Best Wishes, David Stevens, The Manager It’s the handwritten bit that personalises things
  10. ‘Subscribe Me!’… The business that decided that giving ‘key’ customers a bottle of whiskey at Christmas was too ‘same as’ so they subscribed their customers to a magazine for a year that they knew they’d be interested in! They found out their customers’ personal interests and for a similar price to a bottle of whiskey provided a ‘personalised’ customer experience each month for a year! (They had to be careful about some of their customer’s personal interests!)

So, yes, be like Heston and do all you can to create personalised customer experiences, but whatever you do, please make sure it appears GENUINE!!!

Have A Nice Day Now!

ps. Here’s a free e-book on Customer Delight you might find useful!



pps. Feel free to share any examples of ‘personalisation’ that you’ve received as a customer or delivered to your customers

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