7 Customer Expectations and Why I Shouldn’t Have to Ask for a Napkin


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We all speak about expectations, customer expectations. They can be reasonable or extreme, and sometimes achievable or bizarre. But usually, they are appropriate. As a customer, I expect a basic minimum such as:

  • The product or service should work as expected.
  • The product or service should be reasonably priced and in line with similar products.
  • The product or service should be safe to use.

These are the absolute minimums I expect and what a vendor should provide.

According to Deloitte, in their paper, “The True Value of Customer Experiences

“Creating an effective customer experience is about more than just ensuring your customers receive the products and services they desire in a timely and efficient manner. It’s also about creating touchpoints with real people who can organically evangelize and grow your brand through their social media and offline interactions with friends and family.”

They are so right. It’s about the “experience”, and I’ve written about this many times. But a positive experience also comes with expectations that the business must meet – and even surpass. And customers have other expectations from their service provider. For example:

7 Customer Expectations

  1. Get a Straw with a Drink

A customer would always assume that they’d get a straw with their non-alcoholic drink, especially at the drive-thru window. And most, if not all, fast food business always gets this right. When they hand you the drink you get the straw too. It’s expected. But now, many restaurants want you to ask for a straw. What about anticipating the customer’s needs?

  1. Napkins Come With a Takeout Order

This one should be as obvious as getting a straw with a drink but sadly, it doesn’t happen as a rule. How many times have you grabbed your food bag from the drive-thru window and driven away only to find out that it’s missing napkins? This drives me crazy. Isn’t a napkin a basic need when ordering and eating food? You’d think every drive-thru understood this, but NO, they don’t. Why in the world do I need to ask for a napkin?  I expect it to be in the bag.

Apparently, the cost of napkins has risen so high that saving a penny or two is more important to the business than allowing their customers to wipe the ketchup from their lips. Would they ever leave out the spoon with a takeout soup order? Hmmm…

RELATED POST: I shouldn’t have to ask for a napkin, that’s a pet peeve for me. Here are 5 past posts talking about some other pet peeves of mine. Click here to read them.

  1. Serve All Food Together

It seems like the food industry is getting a bad rap here, but I think it’s justified. Here’s why. A group of 6 people enters a restaurant for a relaxing meal. All goes well except for when the food comes out. Only 5 meals get delivered. The server says that the last meal will be out shortly, so you wait. Or do you?

Should the 5 customers start eating or be polite, and following dining etiquette, wait until the last meal is served? How long will the wait be? Won’t their food get cold and potentially less appetizing? Or should they start eating in the hope the last meal will come out soon? But will it? What if it doesn’t?

Any kitchen that cannot cook and deliver 6 good meals at the same time has problems. But their problems shouldn’t get passed on to the customer. The restaurant’s failure must not create an uncomfortable situation for their guests who expect all their meals to be served at the same time. This is not an unreasonable expectation.

RELATED POST: What Happened To The Dining Experience We Used To Receive?

  1. Get a Receipt With Purchase

The latest thing I’ve noticed is gas station attendants asking you if “you want a receipt?” Sure, many people don’t want them. But why does every other business automatically give them to you? The supermarket does. The dry cleaner and shoe store do too. So why not the gas station? Is it because the receipt is only needed if you want to return an item? Maybe. But what about those who use it to track expenses or balance their accounts? Don’t they count? Don’t they have similar expectations?

  1. My Food is Not Squished in a Container or Bag

On your way home from work you stop by the supermarket to pick up a few things: milk, sliced bread, eggs, and maybe a box of your favorite cookies too. While you’re swiping your credit card in the machine, the cashier is bagging your items. You say thanks, grab your bag, and head home only to find out that the milk is laying on top of your bread! Shouldn’t I expect that the bread is placed on TOP of the less fragile items, or in a separate bag? Am I asking for too much?

  1. Consistent Operating Hours

This tends to be a problem with some smaller, privately run businesses. If “business is slow”, they close early in the hopes of saving a few payroll dollars by sending their employees home early. Or it allows them to be home for dinner with their family. Sure, being home for dinner is a noble cause but what about their customers who expected the store to be open for their shopping needs. Especially those who drove a distance to shop after they checked on the store’s advertised operating hours.

  1. Product Instructions That Aren’t Tiny

Remember when I mentioned that the product or service should work as expected? Well, how in the world can I figure out how it works when I can’t read the instructions because they’re printed in the smallest possible font that only a grasshopper could read? I expect the directions to be printed so I can read them without having to dig out my trusty magnifying glass. This is so frustrating. (OK, please don’t start with the “you’re getting old”, jokes).

So, I ask you, how many of these situations have you come across? Are you, and me, wrong for expecting good service AND to get the straw, napkin, and receipt that we’re entitled to? And don’t get me started on the sliced bread!

#customerexpectations #serviceexpectations #customerexpectationexamples

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


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